The Warehouse

The Warehouse – Rob Hart

In the not-too-distant future, a company very similar to Amazon known as Cloud, has firmly established dominance in the marketplace.  In fact, they’ve grown so large that they now have live-in compounds attached to their warehouses where their employees can reside.  They say this is all a part of their green initiative in an attempt to cut down on pollution due to unnecessary commuting.  However, their large presence and seemingly unlimited power have far reaching effects.

Upon arrival to Cloud facilities, employees are divided up into departments and are given color-corresponding polo shirts.  Blue shirts are security, tan shirts are tech, etc.  The story follows new recruits, Preston and Zinnia, as they arrive for orientation.  Preston, a former CEO, entrepreneur, and most recently prison guard, whose business crumbled under the mighty fist of Cloud and its head-honcho Gibson Wells, finds himself in a blue polo on the security team.  Zinnia ends up a part of the redshirts, or “pickers”, and is responsible for fulfilling orders by taking items from the warehouse stacks and dropping them onto conveyor belts for shipment.  However, there’s more to Zinnia than she is letting on.  She’s been hired by an outside entity to try and figure out the inner workings of the facility and just how Cloud is so energy efficient.

I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

One of the things I liked the most about The Warehouse is the way that Hart unloads information about the future.  There isn’t a big info dump, but we’re made aware how much it costs to fly or rent a vehicle, the warm weather is seemingly unbearable (climate change in full swing) and the power spectrum of the economy with small business seemingly no longer able to exist.  These tidbits come from casual conversations that just feel natural.  It would have been easy to do all your world-building up front, but by going this route, it kept me reading in huge chunks.

Inserted at the beginning of every chapter are blog posts from Cloud founder and CEO Gibson Wells.  Wells is dying of cancer, so the posts are meant to relay the history of the company and potential changes to leadership.  These really helped to relay to the reader how seemingly easy it was for a company like Cloud to grow so large, so quickly.  Through his addresses, Wells is portrayed as a good guy – albeit self-righteous – but the fact that it’s being posted on a Cloud website and makes reference to his own in-house Cloud News Network, you can smell the bullshit (the phrase “fake news” makes an appearance).  This adds a sense of urgency to Zinnia’s quest to uncover the truth as she creeps closer and closer.

Following the footsteps of such cautionary tales as Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Hart’s story reads like a blueprint for the future.  Given the way the world is trending, I can easily see a company growing to the size and scope of Cloud – and that’s terrifying.  The Warehouse is destined for big things having already been sold in 20 countries with the film-rights quickly snapped up by Ron Howard.  The more eyeballs on this story, the better.

Notwithstanding, I also recognize the painful irony that I read this on my Kindle.

The Warehouse will be available on August 20, 2019

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