Book Review

The Warehouse by Rob Hart

the warehouse pb

In a world ravaged by bankruptcy and unemployment, Cloud is the only company left worth working for.  But what will it cost you?

Amidst the wreckage of America, Cloud reigns supreme.  Cloud brands itself not just as an online storefront, but as a global saviour.  Yet, beneath the sunny exterior, lurks something far more sinister.

Paxton never thought he’d be working Security for the company that ruined his life, much less that he’d be moving into one of their sprawling live-work facilities.  But compared to what’s left outside, perhaps Cloud isn’t so bad.  Better still, through his work he meets Zinnia, who fills him with hope for their shared future.

Except that Zinnia is not what she seems.  And Paxton, with his all-access security credentials, might just be her meal ticket.

As Paxton and Zinnia’s agendas place them on a collision course, they’re about to learn just how far the Cloud will go to make the world a better place.

To beat the system, you have to be inside it.

The Warehouse is a fantastic dystopian novel in which a single company, Cloud, reigns supreme.  Most other businesses have been forced to close, unable to compete with Cloud which can provide any item you can possibly think of at a lower price and with faster delivery.  Sound familiar?  It was difficult not to think of Cloud as a cross between Amazon and Google, the latter evoked by the campus-like facilities that allow employees to live and work onsite.  Cloud – like Google – is also involved in multiple areas of research, and it was terrifying to think of an amalgamation of the two controlling everything.

With few other options available to them, many individuals are forced to seek employment with Cloud, whether they like it or not.  Paxton is one such individual.  His own business went bust due to Cloud’s activities but, desperate for work, he is forced to seek employment with the very company that caused his demise.  It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and it’s with mixed feelings that he learns that his application is successful.  Paxton is an immediately likeable character.  He’s a guy who has been through some tough times, and I can only imagine the frustration he feels at having to seek employment with Cloud.  It’s perhaps a little surprising that he very quickly becomes comfortable with his role – he doesn’t forget what happened before, but his new life soon becomes normal and he settles in, trying to do the best job he can.  Perhaps this is why companies such as Cloud (or it’s real world counterparts) can become so dominant – they just make everything so darn easy.

Zinnia is another new employee, although the reader quickly learns that her reasons for joining Cloud are quite different to those of Paxton.  I love Zinnia’s storyline, which adds some adventure and mischief to the novel as the reader learns that she has been hired to dig into Cloud’s secrets.  Exactly what she is trying to find out and who she is working for aren’t immediately clear, but it adds a wonderful edge to the novel, and perhaps some hope that Cloud may not be quite as secure as it seems.  Paxton and Zinnia begin a relationship, although it’s hard to know if Zinnia is only using Paxton for his knowledge of security procedures and increased access.  Despite this, I wanted her to succeed in whatever she was trying to do – hers is a “David and Goliath” story as she takes on the behemoth that is Cloud and it’s hard to not to cheer for the underdog in this scenario.

There is a third perspective used in the novel, and its one that I found unusual but intriguing.  The reader hears directly from Gibson, the founder of Cloud.  Despite Cloud’s dominance, Gibson comes across as being a reasonable individual.  It’s hard to know at first if he’s putting on a façade or if he really is as amiable as he seems.  Gibson shares Cloud’s development with the reader from its humble beginnings and I enjoyed learning about Cloud’s development.  Gibson’s view provides an interesting contrast to that of Paxton and Zinnia, as they are indifferent at best to Cloud, while he is obviously incredibly proud of what his company has achieved.

The Warehouse is a thought-provoking read.  It’s a thriller set in a near-future dystopia, featuring likeable characters in a tough situation.  Extremely enjoyable and highly recommended.

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