Week ending October 18, 2013
Eggers, Dave. The Circle. Knopf. Oct. 2013. 504p. ISBN 9780385351393. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385351409. F
Mae Holland is 24 when she starts working at The Circle, a ubiquitous Internet company (think Google merged with Facebook , Twitter, and Amazon), where over 10,000 employees work at its sprawling Silicon Valley campus. As Mae discovers, The Circle provides a lot—every workplace perk you can imagine—but it also requires total buy-in, which causes Mae to stumble at first, but she soon learns to embrace it. The Circle, meanwhile, is making the world safe and connected by putting tiny cameras everywhere and computer chips in children’s bodies, hatching ever bigger plans while its detractors fall by the wayside. As Mae tries to keep up with The Circle’s increasingly demanding requirements for participation and sharing, she falls under its spell, believing she is loved by her millions of followers while distancing herself—and worse—from her parents and oldest friends.
Verdict Although this novel lacks subtlety and provides few surprises, Eggers’s (A Hologram for the King; Zeitoun) seamless prose will suck readers into his satirical polemic against giving up privacy and should provide plenty of discussion around the water cooler—both literal and digital. [See Prepub Alert, 8/12/13.]—Nancy H. Fontaine, Norwich P.L., VT
Scotch, Allison Winn. The Theory of Opposites. AWS, dist. by Amazon.com; BN.com; more. Nov. 2013. 306p. ISBN 9780989499002. pap. $13.95; ebk. ISBN 9780989499019. F
Thirty-two-year-old Willa has spent her life in her father’s shadow. He wrote a best-selling book arguing that fate controls one’s life and that free will and coincidences are nonexistent. So Willa is always examining her choices and her fate, as she moves through life. Her perfectly pleasant marriage to her soul mate, Shawn, is full of predictable ease. So when Shawn calls for a two-month break, Willa is caught off-guard. Combine this blow with getting fired from her advertising job, a Facebook friend request from an old college flame, and the news that her parents are also taking a marital hiatus, and Willa is really up in the air. Her best friend Vanessa throws her a lifeline—they decide to write a book together refuting Willa’s father’s treatise and proving that the theory of opposites—always doing the opposite of what you think is best—can, ultimately, provide the best result. And in writing it, Willa will discover how free will and fate impact her future happiness.
Verdict In her first self-publishing venture, Scotch follows The Song Remains the Same with this enjoyable novel. Willa’s brave trek to find her true self is charming, with some laugh-out-loud moments. Sure to appeal to fans of smart women’s fiction.—Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC