The Circle~Premise Without Promise

I’m appalled I actually finished that train wreck. 

Image result for the circle

Title: The Circle

Author: Dave Eggers

Publisher: Knopf

Genre: Dystopian Fiction

Goodreads Description: 

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.

Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

The Circle by Dave Eggers was an apocryphal mess with which I grew increasingly and increasingly annoyed. It followed Mae Holland, an exceptionally exaggerated woman, who was also exceptionally naïve about everything going on around her. Her coworkers were no different from each other, and there was NO, I mean NO positive character development. As she delved deeper into the company, from Customer Experience, of course, she fell prey to the artificial utopia she’s been handed.

I’d give The Circle one star, for its poor writing, poor characters, poor plot, and the disappointment from Dave Eggers for ruining this premise.


Mae, our main character, started off well enough. She seemed nice, at least, until reaching an unacceptable level of “goodness you really are 100 times worse than the Buchanan’s. Combined.” It’s believable that Mae could be good at Customer Experience (really, why “experience?”), but an average woman, two years out of college, would not be able to pull of all of these asinine choices she winds up making.

She puts a camera on at all times. I realize that the point of this was to assimilate into her company (and earn more money, if I’m honest), but what sort of Customer Service,(almost fresh-out-of) college grad goes that far so early on? Mae was unrealistic.

It was a boring spectacle. Nothing too big happened, and this isn’t the type of situation where you can hate a character but still love a book. Mae made it absolutely impossible to have any will at all to finish this story. There was that twist at the end that absolutely ruined anything good about her character. It wasn’t admirable or anything, it wasn’t supposed to be, it was something that destroyed anything distinctly good about the book.

The company is plastic, Mae’s plastic, the whole idea’s plastic! It’s fake and fits to a mold, it certainly doesn’t break it. It’s misogynistic, and quite honestly, offensive. Mae is shown as a weak woman, impressionable by the men around her. Even a bestseller can be promoting the patriarchy.

The idea was good, in a time where technology is becoming increasingly vigilant and watching, but the idea didn’t pan out in this book.

The Circle-A disappointment of what could have been an impeccably well-crafted novel. 

Thanks for reading! Have you read The Circle? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Remember, here’s my Instagram, facebook, and Goodreads.


3 thoughts on “The Circle~Premise Without Promise

  1. I’m a bit in disagreement of your analysis of Mae, @thebookllama. The Circle’s main character, as I see it, was intended to fall prey to the Circle and the movement that followed it. Mae is a shallow person, a woman seeking to fulfill her purpose in life, something she has trouble with before coming to and working early on at the Circle. It seems (Source: that she is a character so badly wanting to be heard that she’ll do anything that will remotely allow her to be, which—I’ll admit—makes The Circle and her character slightly less engaging. Still, Mae does her job well: irritating the reader.

    “I want to be seen. I want proof I existed… Most people do. Most people would trade everything they know, everyone they know – they’d trade it all to know they’ve been seen, and acknowledged, that they might even be remembered. We all know the world is too big for us to be significant. So all we have is the hope of being seen, or heard, even for a moment.”

    Mae, p. 490

    Mae is the Circle’s perfect figurehead: a young, agreeable (the second definition) and adaptable woman. She does a decent job in accomplishing the tasks the company gives her, and becomes increasingly involved in her online presence as she is peer-pressured to become more connected in the ever-growing Circle. While seemingly silly to the reader (and intentionally, as proved in the characters of Mercer and Mae’s parents), Mae seems to finally find a way to become heard in the world through social media, a revealingly dangerous tool.

    As the only slightly futuristic world around her grows more transparent, Mae is encouraged to be one of the first to continuously live-stream her location to the internet. While I understand your perspective of her intentions of using the camera, for money and an obligation to fit in, I believe that this is only another way Mae is pushed into becoming a part of the Circle. Ever-needing to have attention, to make a legacy for herself (no, I’m not quoting Hamilton), Mae is a flawed protagonist. Rather than being satisfied with her newfound connection, as the reader would expect, she pushes herself to attain more and more, and in doing so becomes increasingly self-centered and prejudiced.

    If you hated Mae, then The Circle did its job, and helped to show you what future generations could be like under the influence of new technological inventions pertaining to the internet. While the book may have not been the best-written, its message came through clear to me, and I came away valuing the vision depicted in the novel.


  2. I’m totally with you! I’m barely halfway through the novel and I’m already so close to throwing it out the window! I thought the idea was really clever of naive Mae falling victim to a highly controlled and mediated artificial universe, yet the writing style is minimalistic to the point of absurdity! Eggers introduces suspense, I feel, only to let us down at the climax and there seems to be very little the actually happens, rather than Mae getting sucked deeper into The Circle and confronting several other bizarre characters like Francis.
    Great Post.
    I soooo admire you for finishing this read.

    Liked by 1 person

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