I'd like to actually rate this one three and a half stars.
I really don't know where to begin with this review; The Circle had a lot of great points, and a lot of weaker points. If you asked outright what I liked and disliked about it, I'd be able to name more dislikes than likes, but that didn't stop it from being a really enjoyable read. The dislikes are all small and overlookable compared to the things I liked about The Circle, so I'll start with that.
The thing that bothered me the most was the image of Sentria. It was completely uncreative. Yes, with three moons and a purple sky, it looked different from Earth, but that was really the ONLY difference. Am I really to believe that Sentrians have soil that is not suitable for growing coffee, yet this foreign planet lightyears away celebrates with turkey, cranberry sauce, and celery? I wasn't aware turkeys could live on a planet where the temperature is more than 100 degrees on a regular day. More than that, Sentria seems to have a lot of similar aspects to Earth: throughout the book Charlie and his father played ""the Sentrian version of chess"" and a Sentrian worked with ""an item resembling a wrench."" Maybe I'm being nitpicky, but if there's going to be a planet where the inhabitants lived secluded from Earthans for years and now think of Earthans as lesser than them, their objects, foods, and games should not have anything in common with the Earthans'.
That being said, I loved the government of Sentria. Completely controlling and nosy, it was the perfect example of a dystopian government. There were a lot of times that I found myself intimidated by their actions, especially during the end, and although they didn't take a really strong position in the book until about halfway through, it was worth the wait. I liked how the beginning of the book was dedicated to forming a really strong relationship between Charlie and Lilly- something not a lot of books take their time with- so that when the government came in to try to separate them, it really meant something. The tone of the book also completely changed. Whereas the beginning was a cute little high school romance read, the end was a romantic thriller.
Another dislike I had was the time period. This book took place in the 80's, but I really just don't see the point of that. Everything from language to activities seemed completely modern. Although I had to look up what a mum was, that was the only part of the culture that I was not familiar with, and I know NOTHING about the 80's. Likewise, Charlie was from the 50's, but that seemed pointless, too. At first, he struggled to fit in with human dialogue, but he didn't have to be from the 50's for that- he's an alien; I'm sure it would've been believable if he'd struggled anyway. Not that it ever amounted to anything, so I really just don't see the point.
Lastly, I loved the side characters. Although it was hard to remember everyone because The Circle throws a lot of names at you, every person in this book seemed thought out and realistic. I especially loved Beth and Claire. I wish that Evelyn's obsession with ruining Charlie's life was explained better, because for a married woman trying to climb up the government ladder, destroying her ex seems a bit stupid, so I'm hoping the second book has some more insight on that. I plan to read it once it comes out, because I really did enjoy the first and the turn it took at the very end, so I'd love to know what happens.