Dave Eggers addressed his plagiarism controversy, and now the reviews of his tech world satire, The Circle, are rolling in. The novel follows Mae Holland, a young woman hired to work at the Circle, a tech company that "links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity." Now that Eggers has established he wrote it himself, what do critics think of it?
Eggers has always had his detractors. But some people really did not like this book.
- Hillary Kelly at The New Republic calls The Circle "overwrought paranoia." It's "a bumbling and ill-formed satire on the invasive, monolithic beast he imagines the tech industry to be." And then there's this burn: "Paging George Orwell: Someone’s gone and made a mockery of your masterpiece."
- Jessica Winter at Slate wishes Eggers would have done his research. Though Eggers has admitted he purposefully avoided reading books about Internet companies or visiting tech campuses, Winter thinks his decision affects the book's realism. "This might all sound nitpicky. But when you’re reading a novel about the Internet by a writer who doesn’t seem clear on what an operating system is or who thinks that a unified ID-and-payment system could extinguish all trolls, everything starts looking like a nit to pick."
The Ones Who Think It's Pretty Good
- Michiko Kakuatani at The New York Times: "It’s not Mr. Eggers’s best work, but it draws upon enough of his prodigious talents to make for a fun and inventive read."
- And Dimitri Nasrallah at the Toronto Star calls it a "page-turner." Eggers "executes the deepening implications of Mae’s predicament in one of his most linear and plain-spoken stories to date. For all its issues, The Circle is an openly inviting read that eschews many of the more literary acrobatics that characterized the author’s early works."
- Carolyn Kellog at the Los Angeles Times: "The ideas behind The Circle are compelling and deeply contemporary. Holland is an everywoman, a twenty-something believer in Internet culture untroubled by the massive centralization and monetization of information, ubiquitous video surveillance and corporate invasions of privacy."
The Fanboys & girls
Jason Diamond at Flavorwire says it's Eggers's best book since his debut memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Diamond writes, "with The Circle, Eggers has given us everything. The nearly 500-page novel performs a delicate balancing act, juggling the straight up Orwellian with a more modern-style dystopia typified by The Truman Show."
Michele Filgate at Salon was so moved by the book that it convinced her to take a social media break: "it scared the crap out of me."
The Circle is available now.