Book Review: The Circle

the circleTitle: The Circle

Author: David Eggers

Series: none

Edition: library e-book

Blurb: 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.

Review: Funny, lately I’ve been getting my reading inspiration from other forms of media. First, it was The Handmaid’s Tale because of the new series on Hulu. This time, it was The Circle, after seeing the trailer for the movie coming up with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.

It’s interesting though, reading these two books back to back. They both show a potential future, but the outcomes of these two futures are very different. Instead of The Handmaid’s Tale‘s religious oppression, The Circle has a very 1984 feel to it, except that instead of Big Brother watching, everyone is watching. The idea is that all information is available. There is no privacy. Every thing is available to be watched by anyone, anywhere. Anyone who is trying to hide something is suspicious – if they are hiding it, it must be something shameful or something illegal. The Circle is what a company like Google would be on steroids, and also if it was run by devious people. Or at least ambiguous people. It’s really hard to tell if the leaders of the Circle are actually evil or just really, really misguided. Actually, I think at least one is evil. But I could be wrong. As I said, it’s really hard to tell.

And that’s what makes this a really good book. Nothing is simple. The Circle starts out as an Internet company that looks to do good, making things easier for people online. Identify theft is pretty much ended because of their work and millions of lives are made simpler. Mae is a really good character, who at the start of the book only wants to get out of her dead end job. She’s so happy when she gets her opportunity at the Circle, which does seem like a utopia. I spent a good deal of the time wishing I could work there. It was really easy for her to get more and more pulled into their influence, until they control nearly every aspect of not just her life, but her mind as well. It’s a really interesting character study.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I originally checked out the e-book from the library, but just bought a physical copy today. This is one I will want to re-read again. GoodReads rating: 5 stars

Advertisements

WWW Wednesday – March 8, 2017

WWW New

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. Three questions, three answers. Go!

What are you currently reading?

So many things at the moment! Still working through The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien – this is my bedtime book. Also started Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, which I am very much enjoying. Some terrific world building in those books! I’m reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke for the Seasonal Reading Challenge book for Spring. This is a re-read for me and I love this book – it’s a modern book that reads like something from the 1800s.

What have you recently finished?

I finished RoseBlood by A.G. Howard, and boy do I have some opinions! A review will be coming soon.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Definitely Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, the last of the Grisha trilogy. I really want to see how this pans out. After that, I would probably look to work on finishing another series, maybe the Blackcoat Rebellion trilogy by Aimee Carter?

There are my answers for the week! Please leave yours in comments!

Teaser Tuesday – March 7, 2017

Teaser-Tuesdays-Purple

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Here are the rules if you would like to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The winding white gravel path led us through the palace grounds, past the rolling lawns and follies, and the high walls of the hedge maze. Tolya, ordinarily so still and silent, squirmed in his saddle, his mouth set in a sullen line.

~ Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

I really love this series. I enjoyed the first book, although it’s been several months since I read it. I didn’t re-read it before starting book #2, but I think I remember enough about it that I’m good. Usually that isn’t the case – I like to have the story fresh in my mind – but I didn’t want to take the time to re-read it right now, although I probably will once I finish the series.

Please leave your teasers in comments!

Cursed Child #3: Act 1, Scenes 7-9

cursed-child-banner

Welcome to this week’s installment of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This week, Harry and Albus share a heartbreaking moment and Harry has a terrifying dream that may have much bigger consequences.

Scene 7 – Harry & Ginny Potter’s House, Albus’s Room

We’ve seen in previous scenes how isolated Albus has become, especially in regards to his own family. This scene begins with what appears to be the Potters getting ready to head off for Albus’s fourth year at Hogwarts. There is a great deal of commotion, but Albus stays tucked in his room, ignoring it all. James is bellowing across the hall (his hair has turned pink?), Lily is trying to convince her mother to let her take fairy wings to school (“They’re fluttery!”), Ginny is trying her darnedest to get rooms cleaned and trunks packed. Harry stops in Albus’s room.

HARRY: Just delivering a pre-Hogwarts gift – gifts – Ron’s sent this . . .

ALBUS: Okay. A love potion. Okay.

HARRY: I think it’s a joke about – I don’t know what. Lily got farting gnomes, James got a comb that’s made his hair turn a shade of pink. Ron – well, Ron’s Ron, you know?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh Ron, don’t ever change! I guess Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes is still in business!

You can tell that Harry is struggling with something and he eventually pulls out his gift to Albus for the year – and it’s one of the most heart wrenching things I think I’ve ever seen.

ALBUS: An old blanket?

HARRY: I thought a lot about what to give you this year. James – well, James has been going on about the Invisibility Cloak since time itself, and Lily – I knew she’d love wings – but you. You’re fourteen years old now, Albus, and I wanted to give you something which – meant something. This . . . is the last thing I had from my mum. The only thing. I was given to the Dursleys wrapped in it. I thought it had gone forever and then, when your great-aunt Petunia died, hidden amongst her possessions, surprisingly, Dudley found this and he kindly sent it on to me, and ever since then – well, anytime I’ve wanted luck I’ve found it and just tried to hold it and I wondered if you . . .

The blanket. The blanket from the beginning of Sorcerer’s Stone that Baby Harry was wrapped in when Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hagrid left him on the Dursleys’ doorstep all those years ago. The only thing left of the parents that had loved him, that had gone with him that horrible night.

I can’t believe they kept it. It doesn’t seem in character for them at all. Harry speculates that Petunia must have wanted him to have it, even after everything that happened. Also, I guess we now know that Petunia is no longer living, although Dudley is (which would make sense, since he’s Harry’s age). No word on Vernon yet.

Albus, being 14 and a bit of a prat, doesn’t see this gift as meaningfully as Harry does. Harry mentions that he would like to be with Albus, holding the blanket on Halloween night, the night his parents died, to honor them. He believes that his mother would have wanted Albus to have the blanket. Instead, Albus sees this as another affront. James got a cool gift, Lily got a cool gift, and all he got was a blanket. He tries to brush Harry off, but Harry is really trying to reach out and connect with his son. He instead offers to help pack because he always loved packing for Hogwarts.

ALBUS: For you, it’s the greatest place on earth. I know. The poor orphan, bullied by his uncle and aunt Dursley . . .

HARRY: Albus, please – can we just –

ALBUS: . . . traumatized by his cousin, Dudley, saved by Hogwarts. I know it all, Dad. Blah, blah, blah.

Clearly Harry Potter’s origin story isn’t as exciting when you’re his kid. Or when you’ve heard it a million times.

Harry is trying to keep his temper, he really is, but Albus knows just how to get under his skin. Albus taunts him, making light of this gift, and finally it’s too much.

HARRY: (finally losing his temper): You know what? I’m done with being made responsible for your unhappiness. At least you’ve got a dad. Because I didn’t, okay?

ALBUS: And you think that was unlucky? I don’t.

HARRY: You wish me dead?

ALBUS: No! I just wish you weren’t my dad.

HARRY (seeing red): Well, there are times I wish you weren’t my son.

Oh no. Oh no no no no. I understand this. I really do. As a parent, there are times when my daughter says or does something that puts me just to the limits of what I can tolerate. But you can’t do that. You have to be the bigger person in this case. You can’t say things like this to your kids, even if you mean it at the time. That kind of thing will stick with a child forever, even if they pretend like it’s nothing.

Which is what Albus does. He says he doesn’t blame his dad for feeling that way and asks that he leave, throwing the blanket after him. Harry realizes what a terrible mistake he’s made, but once words are said, they can’t be unsaid. I feel sorry for both of them.

Scene 8 – Dream, Hut-on-the-Rock

I’m assuming this is Harry’s dream, since no one in his family would know about the Hut on the Rock. It’s the scene from Sorcerer’s Stone when Hagrid comes to give him his Hogwarts letter. Hagrid is banging on the door. Dudley, Petunia and Vernon are all cowering in the corner. Vernon has his rifle. There is one part that I don’t remember in the original book.

AUNT PETUNIA: We’re cursed! He’s cursed us! The boy has cursed us! (Seeing YOUNG HARRY) This is all your fault. Get back in your hole.

I don’t remember Petunia ever saying anything about Harry being a curse, although maybe she thought it a few times.

Hagrid breaks through the door and the scene goes mostly like we expect. Vernon tries to be menacing with the rifle (and fails miserably). Hagrid ties the barrel of the gun into a bow. He also sees Harry, tells him he looks like his parents, and wishes him a happy birthday, giving him his cake. Hagrid starts telling Harry about Hogwarts, taking offense at the fact that the Dursleys had never told him about it. As I said, it all goes as planned until we get to the famous “Harry – yer a wizard” line. Then this happens.

And then, right from the back of the room, whispering around everyone.

Words said with an unmistakable voice. The voice of VOLDEMORT. . .

Haaarry Pottttter

It’s been over twenty years and Harry is still haunted by this. I guess I had hoped, after reading the Deathly Hallows epilogue, that Harry had put all that behind him, but I guess he hasn’t. Being upset from the Albus situation probably doesn’t help either.

Scene 9 – Harry & Ginny Potter’s House, Bedroom

Harry jerks awake and we get the idea that this was more than just a nightmare. His forehead hurts him and he can see Dark Magic swirling around the room. Ginny wakes up, but Harry tells her to go back to sleep. She doesn’t listen and tries to talk to him about it. He grudgingly tells her that it was a dream about the Dursleys, but that it turned into something else.

Ginny is a good wife. I really love their relationship. She is supportive, even though she knows that he behaved badly, both with Albus and with Amos Diggory.

GINNY:Because I know that when the time is right you’ll say sorry. That you didn’t mean it. That what you said concealed . . . other things. You can be honest with him, Harry . . . That’s all he needs.

HARRY: I wish he was more like James or Lily.

GINNY (dry): Yeah, maybe don’t be that honest.

Harry clarifies it, saying that it’s not that he wants Albus to change, he just wishes he could understand him.

I know the feeling. Actually, my issues are usually that when my daughter is behaving badly, I understand her exactly. She is so much like me, it’s scary. Seriously scary.

Ginny tells Harry that he needs to be honest with Albus, that Albus knows when Harry is putting on a front and doesn’t want to deal with that.

HARRY: “The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

GINNY looks at him, surprised.

Dumbledore.

GINNY: A strange thing to say to a child.

HARRY: Not when you believe that child will have to die to save the world.

It’s times like this that I really hate Dumbledore. The way that he played Harry . . . I know he had his reasons, and those reasons were to save the world, but still. Harry was a child. What did I say earlier about adults knowing better and should behave better than children? Really, it’s amazing that Harry is as well-adjusted as he is. I don’t know how he made it.

Harry tries to pretend that his forehead isn’t still in intense pain, but Ginny isn’t buying it. Harry brushes it off and says they should go back to sleep. Ginny asks how long it’s been since his scar hurt. Twenty-two years. That’s how long.

This can’t be good.

WWW Wednesday – March 1, 2017

WWW New

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking On a Word of Words. Yes folks, it’s already March! Can’t believe how fast this year is already going. Missed a few days of blogging because I had the plague. Thankfully, I’m feeling much better now. On with the show!

What are you currently reading?

Started up with The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien last night. This one will take a while, so I’m just going to savor it. I also need to watch The Two Towers movie – I haven’t done that since finishing the book.

Also got quite a bit of progress on RoseBlood by A.G. Howard. I’m . . . well . . . I’m still on the fence on this one. It’s a bit strange and I don’t know how I feel about it yet. It’s definitely caught my interest, so I will keep reading to the end. I want to see where she’s going with this.

Still also reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

What did you recently finish reading?

Nothing new to report here. The last thing I finished was The Two Towers and haven’t finished anything else since then.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Still planning on reading Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo to finish this series.

That’s my status for the week. Please leave your WWW in comments!