The Warehouse by Rob Hart
Penguin Random House: 8/20/19
eBook review copy; 368 pages
The Warehouse by Rob Hart is a very highly recommended
dystopian and espionage thriller set in a changed future where a
mega-corporation is running the economy.
Cloud is a giant worldwide fulfillment company that controls almost
all commerce, labor, and technological and economic development in
America. Employees live in giant MotherCloud facilities where employees
live, work, play, and consume all in one facility. Follow their rules
and you have a job and, well, survival. Climate change has devastated
the country, and after the Black Friday Massacres, well, people don't
want to leave their homes to shop, especially when they can have their
every need provided for by Cloud.
The narrative follows the point-of-view of three people. Gibson Wells is the founder of Cloud. The multibillionaire is dying from pancreatic cancer and is sharing his thoughts and the history of the company through blog posts. He is traveling on a bus across the country to visit each MotherCloud before he dies. Paxton, whose business was destroyed by Cloud, is lucky enough to get hired by Cloud and is assigned a job with security. Paxton begins helping look for the
source of a new drug called Oblivion. Zinnia has also been hired, as a
product-picker, but she is actually a corporate spy working undercover
to find the secrets of the MotherCloud facilities.
Obviously, Cloud will be compared to a present day world-wide
fulfillment company combined with the country-wide Mart stores. They are
both big businesses that have been said to use/abuse their workers and
Wells character seems to mirror the Mart founder. But now add to that
view and take into account all the other e-commerce going on today,
where people can order a wide variety of items through stores or
shopping services and have it all delivered to their homes. We are
already quickly becoming a nation of people who, maybe, have to leave
our homes only for our jobs, unless you can work from home. Large
businesses are already making health services and other amenities
available at work. As for being tracked and watched? Yeah, that is
happening too with facial recognition software, cameras, cell phone
tracking, etc. Don't even get me started on social media and censoring
information to control public opinion. The world building here is taking
what is currently happening to the next level, which is memorable,
cautionary, and terrifying.
The writing is excellent. Hart establishes the setting, introduces
his characters, and sets up the plot, premise, and background. Then he
does an excellent job juxtaposing the reality of MotherClouds with
Gibson Wells' point-of-view. Everything immediately grabs your attention
and imagination because it is so completely and utterly plausible. The
characters are well-developed and presented as individuals. Paxton is
the character to trust as he has no hidden agenda. Zinnia has a secret
agenda and while we can follow her actions, she only shares a limited
amount. Wells is concerned with his image, his legacy, so his voice is
self-serving and delusional. The film rights have been bought by
Imagine Entertainment for Ron Howard.
My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.