cover image The Every

The Every

Dave Eggers. Vintage, $28 (608p) ISBN 978-0-593-31534-7

Eggers’s uneven follow-up to The Circle, which revolved around a futuristic social network, sparkles with provocative ideas but has trouble keeping itself together. The Every, a conglomerate provider of social media, internet search, and commerce, has subsumed the Circle, the utopian company featured in the previous book, and Delaney, an anti-monopoly-protagonist, seeks to destroy the Every from the inside. Eggers spends much of his time in “setup” mode, with a self-referential style that lands some nice jabs (“There had been a movie made about the Circle... and yet the movie, despite its pedigree, was considered unsuccessful and was seen by few”). More often, though, the work feels subsumed by anxiety over readers’ attention spans (“No book should be over 500 pages, and if it is over 500, we found the absolute limit to anyone’s tolerance is 577,” says Delaney’s team leader, Alessandro). And yet, these scenes of dialogue contain some of the best material, particularly when she plays her boss with made-up stories about how she’s learned to trust aggregate critical judgments over her own taste, as part of her effort to fill him with bad ideas that would bring down the system. The climax involving Delaney’s plot is, like Eggers’s vision of the near future, plausible if predictable. This’ll be a bit too wooly for many readers’ tastes, but there’s plenty of sharp apocalyptic satire. (Nov.)