Top critical review
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Great idea, poor story.
on 17 December 2014
I'm not sure where to stand on this book.
I think the author had a great idea here. The premise of this book is certainly interesting. Eggers exploits the creepiness associated with Google's and Facebook's disregard for personal privacy and turns it into a dystopian thriller. Post-Edward Snowden, this book really hits the target.
As a story, however, it fails. Its vacuous and shockingly naive main protagonist, Mae Holland, blindly and unquestioningly accepts all the bizarre requests her company demands of her. Not once does she put up an ounce of resistance when she is being told to share even the most personal and private details of her life. What motivates Mae's lack of resistance remains infuriatingly unclear throughout the story.
I kept on wondering at which point she would explode and tell her employers to stick their requests where the sun doesn't shine. I kept expecting her to at least say "enough is enough" and storm out. Alas, no. All she does is apologise profusely and sacrifice more of her personal dignity. It made me want to grab her by the shoulders and scream at her. Towards the end of the book I even loathed her so much I was actively hoping for some suitably nasty end to her pathetic existence.
Most of the other characters are extremely peripheral and not fleshed out in much detail. There's a couple of love interests here and there, but those aren't explored very much. Then there's the ex boyfriend who acts as the moral conscience of the story. He's the only one who's remotely likeable.
Still though, despite all these criticisms this book did make me sit back and think. A lot of the 'innovations' which the Circle comes up with so ludicrously violate our privacy that the notion of people simply accepting them stretches the believability of the novel. Then again, how many things do we share about ourselves online nowadays without much of an afterthought? Things which, I'm sure, a couple of decades ago we would have balked at.