Skip to main content

Book Review: The Circle

I read a book! 
*raises hands in the air and jumps around in celebration.

Synopsis: 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 the world—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.

Now here's the part that sucks. I finally read a book but I didn't love it. I hate when I don't love books. 

I think the premise of the book and the message it was sending was essential and meaningful. But the actual story line reminded me of that one over zealous nerdy kid who was always trying way too hard to impress people in high school. If he would just chill, he'd be cool but he was always trying to shove his intellect down your throat.

I really liked the main character Mae. She's shy at first, unsure of this brilliant world of "The Circle" that she has suddenly become a part of when she gets a job in costumer service. I thought of the Circle as a glorified Google. If Google and Facebook had a baby and that baby took steroids and was the smartest, richest person in the world, it would be "The Circle." That's how I saw it in my head anyway. 

And then as Mae's job and responsibilities at The Circle grow, she turns into a completely different person, which I usually like in books but this was just too much. 

I felt like the author was just using the characters as glorified or exaggerated examples of a far larger point.  

The book was a huge metaphor for the extremes social media has gone to make the world a less personal and private place. 

You can totally tell this book is written by a man. I am always reminded why I don't like reading about a female protagonist written by a male author. The differences are just so incredibly noticeable! I didn't know Mae's hair color, her style, anything. There were hardly any observations of the other characters either. At least there weren't enough to feed my mental pictures, anyway. (Another obvious male author M.O.? The only sex scene that got any detail happened in a bathroom stall where to two people couldn't see each other's faces or talk out loud. That has male fantasy written all over it, if you ask me). Plus there was a weird sexual tension between Mae and her best friend Annie that went unexplained. Males are so predictable. 

Here's a great excerpt that drives home the point of the book, which was basically to remind the world that social media is overbearing and that a company in charge of it could ultimately drive people to whatever they wanted, based on their growing need to always feel connected and in-the-know.

But the book does pose an interesting question. Would we be able to handle knowing EVERYTHING? Sure, you follow your grandmother and old high school teachers on Facebook. But what would happen if there was a live feed of their living room on your home page? 

The premise of "The Circle" is that the company believes that if everyone is transparent, then there are no secrets. If you are always seen, you are always being held accountable. They think politicians will be more honest, that crime will plummet and bad deeds essentially go away. But what about common privacy? What about the man struggling with a disease who doesn't want his weaknesses to be seen? What about the woman with sad family secrets that are better left buried? 

Mae gets washed up in the glory of The Circle and begins to see things the way the head honchos want her to. Her transition from an outsider to a person who literally becomes surrounded by everything social, technical and digital is a great contrast. Ultimately, I think Mae become a machine and it ruins her relationships. 

I am normally a novel reader. I wouldn't call this a novel by any means. Think Animal Farm and 1984. It's a satire. It's an opinion of someone who thinks that Facebook is a bit ridiculous and wants to show what would happen if we keep being "over sharers." I just felt like it was a bit over done. 


I am moving on to a new book! 
I am a huge Wally Lamb fan (She's Come Undown is a huge favorite) and his new book, We Are Water has me hooked!

And after that: 

It's also an upcoming movie starring Kate Winslet! 

What are you reading? 


  1. I have to say I think I would think just like you - to be honest I probably wouldn't have picked it to read it definitely sounds like you said a bit too much satire and opinion rather than a novel.
    It's annoying to not like a book right? Kind of makes me feel like I've wasted the time it took me to read it.

  2. I hate it when I spend time reading a book and it leaves me feeling meh!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

"When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens."

My review of Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

This book will definitely be on my best of 2018 reading list!

This slow and steady escape in to the marshlands of the North Carolina coast in the 1960s is indulgent and memorizing. Owens takes you on two adventures: one is trying to solve the murder of a young man whose body was found at the bottom of a fire tower with no clues on how he died.

The other is the life of Kya Clark, a young girl left behind by her family and raising herself completely alone. Her skill, bravery and acute attention to the natural world that surrounds her kept my attention. Her marsh home is the only thing that she trusts and when one young man shows her compassion by visiting her and teaching her how to read, she begins to see a side of life and love that she never knew existed. As she grows up, Kya becomes one with the …

Book Review: The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

The best book of the summer! 

Why I loved it: The setting of Nantucket is impeccably described. I could smell the salty sea air, I could taste the lobster rolls and I could hear the wave tides coming in. I loved the cast of characters. They are a motley crew of loveable and hateable characters, people I could picture being friends with and others I wanted to shove. They were introduced quickly but the fact that you get to read various points of views make the story line easy to follow. I could picture them so clearly in my mind. 
It's a roller coaster of a novel- first you think a young couple is in love and on the verge of happily ever after. They are rich, talented and envied. Hundreds of people are coming to their lavish wedding and they are the envy of everyone around them. And then there is a tragedy: the bride finds her maid of honor dead on the beach, the morning of her wedding. 
Everything starts to unravel after that point. Secrets that you WILL NOT see coming reveal the…

The Start of My 2019 Reading List

It's going to be hard to beat 2018's reading list but here is a great start! Here are just a few of the books that will be on my reading list at the beginning of this year! 

Elsey Come Home by Susan Conley, Out January 15, AA Knopf 

From the widely praised author of Paris Was the Place–a shattering new novel that bravely delves into the darkest corners of addiction, marriage, and motherhood. 

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin, Out February 2, William Morrow 
It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected. Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the …