Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Warehouse

The Warehouse by Rob Hart
Penguin Random House: 8/20/19
eBook review copy; 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9781984823793

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.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.

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