Just finished...

The Circle - Dave Eggers

So I enjoyed it, but I have issues.


Eggers has written a book about technology and the internet but doesn't seem to understand how it works. Everyone talks like a tech manual with all the tell-don't-show, which can be aggravating, but not as much as when the black and white view of technology in our modern day lives reads like the comments section of 4Chan, only with a larger vocabulary and less rape jokes.


I also didn't appreciate that Eggers felt the need to explain why something like The Circle is such a bad idea with such clunky mouthpiece moments. It was like Eggers was stopping the story to step forward and say "And now we're going to talk about the potential totalitarian overreach of privately run companies owning all our details". The story was doing a fine enough job with allowing me as the reader to fill in the gaps and I didn't need any help. Some trust in the reader from Eggers would have been appreciated.


It's a proper case of "Old Man Yells at The Cloud" but it's readable and 500 pages just flew by. I felt that Eggers captured the insular superficially utopian nature of a company like The Circle very well (imagine Google meets Apple with way more reach) and how such things can become cult-like very quickly. I related a little too much to Mae, a dissatisfied 24 year old who lands the job of her dreams and desperately wants to prove that she's worthwhile and important. 


The "twist" is really obvious and some of the metaphors are painfully clunky. I'm amazed Eggers and his editor left them in. I understand where this polemic comes from but the lines of debate were so firmly drawn that I felt a touch belittled by it all. The emphasis on the role of government was well done, especially in the age of NSA and the Patriot Act, and Eggers captures certain elements of online life really well (the over-sensitive social media users who panic when you don't reply right away, for example), but a lot of the key elements of The Circle didn't stick. 


Overall, I liked it but I still feel somewhat underwhelmed by it. Eggers is a writer who comes with such expectations and praise and yet I was left wanting more from him. He has some interesting ideas but needs more finesse to pull off the execution. Sledgehammer imagery and comments section style proselyting are just a bit too much.