The Warehouse

The Warehouse

by Rob Hart

Hardcover

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Overview

Cloud isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place to live. And when you’re here, you’ll never want to leave.

“A thrilling story of corporate espionage at the highest level . . . and a powerful cautionary tale about technology, runaway capitalism, and the nightmare world we are making for ourselves.”—Blake Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter

Film rights sold to Imagine Entertainment for director Ron Howard!

Paxton never thought he’d be working for Cloud, the giant tech company that’s eaten much of the American economy. Much less that he’d be moving into one of the company’s sprawling live-work facilities.

But compared to what’s left outside, Cloud’s bland chainstore life of gleaming entertainment halls, open-plan offices, and vast warehouses…well, it doesn’t seem so bad. It’s more than anyone else is offering. 

Zinnia never thought she’d be infiltrating Cloud. But now she’s undercover, inside the walls, risking it all to ferret out the company’s darkest secrets. And Paxton, with his ordinary little hopes and fears? He just might make the perfect pawn. If she can bear to sacrifice him.

As the truth about Cloud unfolds, Zinnia must gamble everything on a desperate scheme—one that risks both their lives, even as it forces Paxton to question everything about the world he’s so carefully assembled here.

Together, they’ll learn just how far the company will go…to make the world a better place.

Set in the confines of a corporate panopticon that’s at once brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, The Warehouse is a near-future thriller about what happens when Big Brother meets Big Business—and who will pay the ultimate price.

Praise for The Warehouse

“A fun, fast-paced read [that] walks a fine line between a near-future thriller and a smart satire . . . makes you wonder if we’re already too far into a disastrous future, or if there’s still some hope for humanity.”—NPR

“I loved The Warehouse, although and because it made my blood run cold. This is what our world could be by this time next year.”—S.J. Rozan, Edgar award-winning author of Paper Son
 
“An inventive, addictive, Crichton-esque, page-turning, near-future dystopian thriller.”—Paul Tremblay, Stoker award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghostsof Lock Every Door

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781984823793
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 08/20/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 19,911
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Rob Hart is the author of the Ash McKenna crime series and the short-story collection Take-Out. He also co-wrote Scott Free with James Patterson. He’s worked as a book publisher, a political reporter, and a communications director for a politician and was a commissioner for the city of New York. He lives on Staten Island with his wife and daughter.

Read an Excerpt

Paxton

Paxton pressed his hand against the front window of the ice-cream parlor. The menu board on the wall inside promised homemade flavors. Graham cracker and chocolate marshmallow and peanut butter fudge.

Flanking it, on one side, was a hardware store called Pop’s, and on the other was a diner with a chrome and neon sign he couldn’t quite make out. Delia’s? Dahlia’s?

Paxton looked up and down the stretch of the main road. It was so easy to imagine the street bustling with people. All the life this place used to hold. It was the kind of town that could inspire feelings of nostalgia on the first visit.

Now it was an echo fading in the white sunlight.

He turned back to the ice-cream parlor, the only business on the strip not boarded up with weathered plywood. The window was hot to the touch where the sun hit it and coated in a layer of grit.

Looking inside, at the dusty stacks of flared tin cups and the empty stools and the fallow refrigerators, Paxton wanted to feel some kind of regret, about what this place must have meant to the town that surrounded it.

But he had reached the limit of his sadness when he stepped off the bus. Just the act of being there was stretching his skin to bursting, like an overfilled balloon.

Paxton hitched his bag over his shoulder and turned back into the horde shuffling down the sidewalk, trampling the grass jutting through the cracks in the concrete. There were still people coming up in the rear—older folks, people nursing injuries so they couldn’t walk as well.

Forty-seven people had gotten off the bus. Forty-seven people, not including him. About halfway through the two-hour ride, when there was nothing left on his phone to capture his attention, he’d counted. Heavy-shouldered men with the callused hands of day laborers. Stooped office workers grown soft from years of hunching at keyboards. One girl couldn’t have been more than seventeen. She was short and curvy, with long brown braids that reached down to her lower back and skin the color of milk. She wore an old lavender pantsuit, two sizes too big, the fabric faded and stretched from years of washing and wear. The sliver of an orange tag, like the kind used in secondhand stores, stuck out from its collar.

Everyone carried luggage. Battered roller suitcases wobbling on uneven pavement. Bags strapped to backs or slung over shoulders. Everyone sweating from exertion. The sun baked the top of Paxton’s head.

It must have been well past a hundred degrees. Sweat ran down Paxton’s legs, pooling in his underarms, making his clothes stick. Which was exactly why he wore black pants and a white shirt, so the sweat wouldn’t show as much. The white-haired man next to him, the one who looked like a college professor put out to pasture, his beige suit was the color of wet cardboard.

Hopefully the processing center was close. Hopefully it was cool. He just wanted to be inside. He could taste it on his tongue: dust blowing from ruined fields, no longer strong enough to keep a grip on anything. It had been cruel of the bus driver to drop them at the edge of town. He was probably staying close to the interstate to conserve gas, but still.

The line ahead shifted, drifting to the right at the intersection. Paxton dug in harder. He wanted to stop to pull a bottle of water out of his bag, but pausing at the ice-cream parlor had been an indulgence. There were now more people ahead of him than behind.

As he neared the corner, a woman launched past him, clipping his side, making enough contact he almost stumbled. She was older, Asian, with a mop of white hair on her head and a leather satchel looped around her shoulder, making a hard push for the front of the pack. But the effort proved to be too much and within a couple of feet she tripped, went down hard on her knee.

The people around her stepped to the side, gave her room, but didn’t stop. Paxton knew why. A little voice in his head screamed, Keep walking, but of course he couldn’t, so he helped her get to her feet. Her bare knee was scratched red, a long trail of blood running down her leg to her tennis shoe, so thick the line was black.

She looked at him, barely nodded, and took off. Paxton sighed.

“You’re welcome,” he said, not loud enough for her to hear.

He checked behind him. The people at the back were picking up the pace. Walking with a renewed sense of effort, probably at the sight of someone going down to the ground. There was blood in the air. Paxton hitched the bag again and took off at a brisk pace, aiming hard for that corner. He turned and found a large theater with a white marquee. The stucco on the front of the building was crumbling to reveal patches of weather-worn brick.

Broken neon glass letters formed an uneven pattern along the top of the marquee.

r-i-v-r-v-i-e.

Paxton figured it was supposed to spell out Riverview, even though there didn’t seem to be any rivers nearby, but then again, maybe there used to be. Parked outside the theater was a mobile air-conditioning unit, the sleek vehicle humming, pumping cold air through a sealed tube into the building. Paxton followed the crowd toward the long row of open doors. As he got closer, the doors on the end closed, leaving a few in the middle still open.

He pushed forward, nearly running the final few steps, aiming for the middle. As he stepped through, more doors slammed behind him. The sun disappeared and the cool air enveloped him and it felt like a kiss.

He shivered, looked back. Saw the last door close, and a middle-aged man with a pronounced limp was left out in the blazing sun. The first thing the man did was deflate. Shoulders slumped, bag dropped to the ground. Then the tension returned to his spine and he stepped forward, smacking his palm against the door. He must have been wearing a ring because it made a sharp crack, like the glass might break.

“Hey,” he yelled, his voice muffled. “Hey. You can’t do this. I came all the way out here.”

Crack, crack, crack.

“Hey.”

A man in a gray shirt that said RapidHire on the back in white letters approached the rejected applicant. He placed a hand on the man’s shoulder. Paxton couldn’t read lips, but he assumed it was the same thing spoken to the woman who’d gotten turned away from the bus. She was the last person on line and the doors closed in her face, and a man in a RapidHire shirt appeared and said: “There is no last place. You have to want to work at Cloud. You are free to apply again in one month’s time.”

Paxton turned away from the scene. He couldn’t find more room for his own sadness—certainly he couldn’t muster space for anyone else’s.

Reading Group Guide

1. Does Gibson really believe he’s making the world a better place? Did you ever find yourself rooting for him?

2. What do you think are some of the biggest work issues highlighted in The Warehouse? Have you experienced any of these issues at your job?

3. Are there real-world companies that remind you of Cloud? Are any major companies adopting Cloud’s values and ideas?

4. Is the world in The Warehouse a possible future for us?

5. After reading The Warehouse, have you reevaluated how or where you shop? If so, why?

6. Have you seen recent news stories that remind you of The Warehouse? If so, why?

7. Paxton is furious with Cloud for ruining his life, but ends up defending its safety and comfort. Zinnia starts off skeptical of the company’s workers, only to later empathize with them. How did your feelings change over the course of the book?

8. Do you think Paxton has a point about the safety and security that Cloud offers? What are the trade-offs?

9. What do you think happened to Zinnia in the end?

10. Would you work at Cloud? Why or why not? If so, what color would you wear?

11. Do you think consumers have a role to play in improving the way the new retail economy operates?

Customer Reviews

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The Warehouse: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous 22 days ago
A rip-off mash-up of "Artemis" by Andy Weir and "The Store" by James Patterson from a "dude-bro" who relies on the same shipping industry he criticizes. He would complain about deforestation then tell you to buy more of non-recycled books that trees were killed for to make his book. Besides being a rip-off, it's also just a sci-fi rip off of "Hunger Games" - something has happened to the world, blah blah. The plot is disrupted too many times by cheesy "videos" from the owner of the store and then his main character is bland surrounded by racist stereotypical characters. The author believes in money, even though he doesn't give you a story like that, because in real life he is also trying to get people to not do certain things (not eat meat, give up your phone, etc.) but only rich people can do that. Only the rich can decide how they want to spend their time - some of us have to work. But, instead, the author tends to blame the victims. That somehow, they're not "standing up" for themselves, meanwhile he gives the "evil retail empire" a tribute send-off even if he tries to make them the bad guy. Instead he blames the workers who have no choice. A pretentious work that steals from other works and then pretends this writer is "one of you" while urging you to buy his book from the same retailers he criticizes. You'll like it if you're also pretentious and feel good about "going green" while your contemporaries with no money perish.
BookAddictFL 24 days ago
I so want to jump on the bandwagon with all the readers who’ve loved this book. Alas, I’m an outlier, left feeling this story could’ve been so much better. The Warehouse is set in a near, dystopian future, which both fascinated and irritated me. Life inside The Cloud facility is brilliantly portrayed. I felt what it was like to live and work there. Yet, life beyond the walls of this isolated facility remained mostly a mystery. We’re given hints of a desolate and desperate society, but I wanted to know more so that I understood the desperation. Had the nation become a sort of police state? Did we still have social services, police, firefighters, hospitals, schools? Was the nation even functioning? None of this was explained. The pacing is maddeningly slow and monotonous. I know this was done, at least in part, to show us the monotony of life there, but I quickly grew bored. I didn’t need to experience endless mind-numbing monotony in order to understand it. And so I skimmed, a lot. Still, I persevered because I wanted to know how it all turned out. I expected all the buildup to lead us to an explosive ending. But, no, what we’re given is an abrupt and lackluster ending. We’re left with more questions than answers, intentionally perhaps, though the fizzling out and dangling threads only left me irritated. If you enjoy dystopian novels that expound on a certain mega-conglomerate internet company’s potential to take over the country and maybe the world, then this book offers a lot to consider. But, while I give props for the concept, the execution left me disappointed. *I received a review copy from the publisher, via NetGalley.*
Anonymous 5 days ago
A chilling, near-future representation of what our lives & country could easily be heading for, but with more corporate espionage. Every time Zinnia packed an item that I've personally ordered online, I got chills. The integration of the facility's promo videos and blog articles from the founder helped establish the almost brainwashing sensation of Cloud. My main complaint, however, is that this book follows the common trope of "fridging" multiple female characters, all in the pursuit of the lead male character's arc.
DiiFL 9 days ago
Creative, imaginative and terrifying, is Rob Hart’s THE WAREHOUSE a piece of literary genius or a prediction of the future humanity could be heading for? This near-future, dystopian tale actually feels like it has roots in the contemporary business world where consumers crave the one-stop shopping experience, done online with the click of a button, then voila, your purchase is at your door while the brick and mortar shops crumble. Welcome to a world where one company has almost completely devoured the American economy, where being employed by them means living within their structures, eating their food and losing all sense of individuality and privacy, because the Cloud is watching, tracking you, and rating your performance. One would think that evil would have no place in such a controlled atmosphere, but, leave it to humanity to find a way to obtain illegal substances, perpetuate sexual aggression and even murder for hire. With a touch of romance thrown in, one security officer and one “merchandise picker” will be put to the ultimate test of loyalty, trust and make discoveries that are chilling, all while under the scrutiny of the Cloud. A good read, a little fascinating and a little creepy in the parallels that can be drawn with the seeming potential for big business to become Big Brother, all while we still insist on destroying the gifts that Mother Nature gave us! I received a complimentary ARC edition from Crown! This is my honest and voluntary review.
Hillsboro 9 days ago
I knew it would be trashing of Jeff Bezos and Amazon when I bought the book. I was not disappointed. It was a very thin plot with little or no character development aside from the "blog" by Gideon Wells, the Cloud CEO. And even that really proved to be a thin, self aggrandizing load of tripe. You figured out rather quickly how the story would end and even then it simply petered out. Spend your money on the follow on to "The Handmaids Tale." Clearly written by a proven, well respected author.
JuliW 12 days ago
This book is disturbing....but a great read! America has been taken over by Cloud, a corporation that has control of the economy and the government. Free enterprise is gone.....most private business was destroyed by Cloud. There are few jobs and people will do anything to secure one. Everything is controlled by Cloud in one way or another. What was touted as an effort to improve the world has become a destroyer instead. How far will the corporation go to protect its dark secrets? Obviously, this story is a thinly veiled horror/dystopian tale about a company like Amazon growing so powerful and all-encompassing that it destroys American society and the economy. This book is like an updated, more modern version of Orwell's 1984. The corporation is always watching. The corporation controls everything. And those who challenge the corporation disappear. All hail the corporation. It's a scary picture of what society might become. As someone who grew up in pre-internet days, I see the drastic changes in our daily life, culture and economy since computers have pretty much become a necessity. Our social interactions are different. Our economy is different. Education is different. Nearly everything is different. While instant access to information is an awesome tool....some changes cause me concern. After finishing this book, I sat back and just let those thoughts run through my head. Are the changes a good thing? Or are all the changes causing more stress, more difficulty and a loss of freedom, rather than the freedom we all thought instant information would bring? Thought provoking. Distressing. Mesmerizing. Great story! Enjoyed it! I will definitely read more by this author, even though his tale made me extremely uncomfortable. I think I need to read a cute story about a talking dog or something now.....gotta get this cautionary tale out of my head. **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Crown Publishing via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
_armedwithabook 20 days ago
The Warehouse follows the story of Paxton, when he comes to interview for a position at Cloud, the multi-billionaire corporation that employees thousands of people in jobs ranging from security, packaging, health-care, cleaning, tech, and much more. Working at Cloud provides financial stability as well as a place to call home. On the surface, Cloud seems like a good place to work, but Paxton brings with him a side to Cloud that others might not have experienced, unless they were running a small business some years back. Set in the future, when all deliveries are made using drones, guns are no longer a part of America, and many big cities have collapsed, giving rise to MotherClouds that become big cities themselves, much has changed form today's time. Rob Hart's book is a deep study of the drive and choices that led to this future, the effects on the people of the world, and the comfort that it provides. With pieces of insights from Gibson, the visionary behind Cloud, and Zianna, hired to destroy Cloud, the reader is exposed to multiple perspectives on the company and its functionality. I found all three characters to be well thought out and built. With Gibson, especially, his narrative invoked sympathy at times. Paxton, though, is at the midst of everything, struggling to define what freedom truly means. I really enjoyed this book. It was seasoned with commentary on a number of issues that we face today - the access to guns in America, the reliability on delivery systems like Amazon (not yet drone operated but that's in the works), green energy, the business vs the government, law and order, and waste management. There is so much here, layered with multiple human experiences. I am thankful for the publisher and author for making an advanced reader copy available to me through NetGalley. I look forward to delving deeper on The Warehouse on my blog in the near future.
surferjoe 20 days ago
The Warehouse is a sort of 1984 or Brave New World, updated and revisited. The premise of this page-turning easy-to-read story is that perhaps we are further along that path than we care to admit and we are going there willfully gladly and without much thought about the consequences. We already live in a world where mom and pop shops are disappearing from main street, U.S.A. In fact, many cute main streets boast stores that are more welcoming to tourists than to locals' needs and the amazing thing is you can go into almost any mall or shopping center anywhere and find pretty much the same stores and same products. And, this is both great and crappy because we get the products everyone wants but perhaps not the endless variety we might want. For that, we only have to dial up the great web and there is one company with lots of warehouses that has everything we could want and can nearly instantaneously deliver it. And, we might not be okay with governmental surveillance of everything we do, at least Big Brother style, but we seem to be okay with giving up our privacy to Google, to Amazon, to Apple. Your phone tracks wherever you go. Your internet provider and search engine knows whatever you post, whatever you read, whatever you buy, whoever you interact with. And, we know that even now, Google at least and probably the other big guys too, censors things and makes things disappear from searches. Don't like what you see, just wait till they mess with the algorithms again and point you in the preferred direction. It's happening now as you read this. Your preferences and desires are being noted. Hart gives us a story where one giant corporation controls nearly all commerce and employs thirty million people in its cloud villages where drones are sent out from warehouses every minute to everywhere to deliver product. And no other companies can survive the competition. Outside is a wasteland where global warming has baked everything beyond perfection. And, inside the Cloud village, conformity is the name of the game and go along and get along is the motto. Drudgery, being tracked by the watches, afraid to step out of line lest your star rating goes down. But, the price of giving up your freedom to roam, to think, to live, is to get a decent apartment and cloud burgers (although those are the subject of another treatise and i will not waste your time on it now). Using several alternating voices is the latest rage by all modern authors, but here it actually works well and we get to know our characters and see the world through their eyes. Very enjoyable and easy read that makes you wonder where we are headed. Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
KindigBlog 21 days ago
Welcome to The Warehouse – a company that encourages its workers to become a part of the family. With housing, medical facilities, entertainment and food all in one place for workers to enjoy it seems like heaven to so many but what shady activities are lurking beneath the surface? As a lover of books such as ‘The Circle’ and tv series such as ‘Black Mirror’, I was so excited to get the ARC for The Warehouse by Rob Hart. The blurb really pulled me in and got me excited and I was not left disappointed! The worldbuilding in The Warehouse is first rate – I really got absorbed into the company of Cloud and what it was like to work there. I loved the way the narrative shows you exactly how a company could have been allowed to be as all-encompassing and powerful as it is. I liked the references to ‘historical’ events such as The Black Friday Massacres and how everything felt so close the reality it could be happening, or close to happening in our present day. I really enjoyed the way that the chapters of the book were broken down into themes – starting with a speech from the founder of the company, which then tied into a chapter from each of our protagonists who each have very different agendas. Of course, the similarities to actual companies such as Amazon could not be overlooked and the author explains the points he was trying to convey in the afterward which he succeeded in doing. I felt I sympathised well with both the main characters of Zinnia and Paxton and I enjoyed their narratives. The book is nicely paced and never feels like it is overloading you with new information or intentionally alluding to secrets – everything is discovered at a good pace and the climatic conclusion is a really great ending to the book. Overall The Warehouse is one of my Kindig Gems for 2019 – go and pick up a copy and see why! Thank you to NetGalley & Random House UK – Transworld Publishers & Bantam Press for a chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The_Brown_Bookloft 22 days ago
Summary: In the near future, global warming has turned much of the country into permanent desert conditions. Small towns are nearly abandoned and cities are hot and overcrowded. After the Black Friday Massacre, when thousands of people were shot while doing their holiday shopping, people are afraid to leave their homes for even routine errands. Most brick and mortar stores have gone out of business except for the very largest ones and a few determined mom-and-pop stores. One man, Gibson Wells, is behind the solution. He created mega centers where people live and work. Deliveries to homes outside of Cloud are made with a well-designed drone system. When people work for MotherCloud aka Cloud, they have everything they need right on the climate controlled property, which is described as much like an oversized airport terminal. As the story begins, Gibson Wells is dying from cancer. He is taking his last year to visit his MotherCloud centers and greet workers personally. He has yet to choose his successor. At one of the centers, two new employees have different agendas. Paxton has an axe to grind with Gibson Wells. Paxton invented a device that cooked a perfect hard-boiled egg. Cloud purchased the product and then undercut the prices time after time, putting Paxton out of business. He wants to meet Gibson Wells and give him a piece of his mind. Zinnia is a corporate spy, sent to discover weaknesses and deceit in Cloud’s power systems. Paxton and Zinna find themselves unexpectedly sucked into the Cloud mentality. It seems to not be quite as bad as they thought. But slowly, they discover things that put their very lives in danger. Comments: This is a whiz-bang, first-rate page turner! I romped through it in a single day. The author has created a very believable world, in which things that actually exist today are just taken to the next horrific step. The characters are all very relatable and the alternating chapters in their voices gives the reader a well-rounded perspective. A bit of an amusing personal aside on current delivery systems, I’m currently waiting for a package delivery. The package was apparently farmed out to an individual who does deliveries after work. The building I’m living in locks the doors at 5 pm. This package is going round and round trying to get here. I’ve tried to resolve this problem, but haven’t been able to yet. It definitely would be nice if a drone could drop it on my balcony! Very highly recommended for readers of General Fiction, Science Fiction, Apocolyptic and Dystopian Fiction, and Contemporary Fiction. It would also make a great Beach or Travel read and I’d love to see it hit the best-seller lists. Director Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment has already opted to adapt The Warehouse into a movie. I don’t watch many movies, but I’m already looking forward to this one!
diane92345 24 days ago
A thinly, really thinly, veiled stab at Amazon is located in The Warehouse. The Black Friday Massacres drive people to shop increasingly online. The Cloud (ahem, Amazon) picks up the slack and becomes the world’s biggest employer. It opens modern factory towns, called MotherClouds, worldwide where workers use their money to pay for rent and food. In the distribution centers, drones make deliveries easy. However, automated watches and shelves make the pickers’ jobs untenable and injuries common. Enter industrial spy, Zinnia, who is trying to determine if the Cloud is faking its “fully green” environmental policy to grab valuable government incentives. I have a nephew and a niece who used to work as pickers at Amazon. They had talked about the inability to reach the bathrooms during breaks and the hectic work schedule required to avoid getting fired (though both eventually were let go). In addition, my job went on a tour of the Amazon warehouse in town. I’m part of the County’s Purchasing Department but it appears anyone can request a tour. I have seen all of the moving shelves (currently just on wheels—not automated bugs like in the book but I’m sure someone is testing the bugs at some other Amazon warehouse). I have seen the frantic pace of the pickers and boxers. Maybe it is because I knew too much about Amazon, but I didn’t like The Warehouse. There wasn’t much new to me and I think the author could have pushed it to a more absurd level. This book felt like it was projecting only about a year into the real Amazon’s future. I had some high hopes but this was a miss for me. However, I am still giving it 3 stars because the writing was good and the characters seemed genuine. Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
bamcooks 25 days ago
This new fantasy book is set in a near-future world where Black Friday massacres and extreme weather have just about wiped out in-store retail shopping. Into that gap has stepped Gibson Wells who developed a better package delivery system using drones. People can order goods online from 'The Cloud' and expect delivery virtually instantaneously from his mass distribution centers called MotherClouds. Wells is worth $304.9 billion. Yes, he's the richest man in America and the largest employer by far. But as the book opens, he is dying from pancreatic cancer and has been told he has about one year left to live. He wants to spend that year driving around America in a motor home visiting as many of his distribution centers as he can so he can soak up the love of his happy employees. And while traveling, he's writing a blog, telling the wonderful story of his success. The MotherClouds are like mini-cities where workers live, eat, sleep and play...and never leave the building for months at a time. People are desperate to be hired to work at the MotherCloud as most other jobs have dried up. The environment is so bad that cities have become uninhabitable ghost towns. This story is also told from the point of view of two new employees and follows them from the initial hiring interview onward. One is a man named Paxton who was a prison guard at one point and would like to do anything else but work in security...and of course, that is exactly where he is assigned. The other is a woman named Zinnia who just happens to be a spy for the competition: she hopes to be assigned to tech where she can do the most damage but instead, she becomes a runner, one of those workers filling customer orders. Their two lives quickly become intertwined, headed for disaster. Of course, one can see how the marketing trends of today could lead to this kind of dehumanizing mega-business, where people are used up and discarded if they can't meet the quota, where there is really no life except that provided by the employer. So often sci-fi provides a window so we can see more clearly what's to come if nothing changes. Who is Wells most like? Bezos? The Walton family? Apple? Google? I'm sure this exciting book will make a terrific movie--it has all the required ingredients: action, intrigue, danger, villains and a touch of romance. I received an arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
lostinagoodbook 27 days ago
Before I get up on my soapbox with my feelings about this book let me say, read this book, it’s not as heavy as I’ve made it out to be. It’s exceedingly readable, quick and absorbing. It’s excellent. We are going to start this review at the end of the book. Not the end of the story … don’t worry, this is a spoiler free review. I mean we will start in the acknowledgements. I do love acknowledgements in a book, because sometimes you can glean a lot of information in what the author chooses to share. In this case, the author explains his choice of dedication to a “Maria Fernandez”. Maria Fernandez, was a woman who, in 2014, worked 3 part-time jobs at Dunkin’ Donuts trying to make ends meet. She would sleep in her car between shifts and one morning accidentally died from suffocation on gas fumes. She made so little from her 3 jobs, she struggled to make her expenses including $550/month rent on a small apartment. As Mr. Hart notes, that year “Dunkin’ Brands chief executive Nigel Travis earned $10.2 million.” This tragic story was part of his inspiration for this book. The Warehouse is dystopia cleverly disguised as a utopia. Who doesn’t want to work for a company like The Cloud (a thinly disguised Amazon)? You get a nice, though tiny apartment, are close to work, shopping, restaurants. It’s a safe place to work and raise a family. Of course, employees are also overworked, exposed to workplace hazards, micromanaged, surveilled within an inch of their lives, and exist in constant dread of their employment being terminated. But … the devil you know, right? The Cloud has nearly completely taken over distribution of goods worldwide. It controls legislation in multiple countries. Where else can you go if you can’t make it at The Cloud? You starve or you work for them. The main story follows two new employees and their very different reasons for applying for work in The Cloud. I have to admit that the descriptions of the company itself were most interesting to me. How does it maintain its stranglehold over competition, how does it exert so much control over its employees. I found echoes of the dilema of the Joad’s in The Grapes of Wrath. On finally reaching the paradise of the fields in California, they soon learned that their meager wages would just as quickly be sucked up by obligations to the company for their living space and for goods bought at the Company Store. It’s a vicious cycle, that I believe, can be found in today at any local Walmart. Employees are hired at a pittance, trained to apply for state aid and encouraged to then spend those dollars in the stores they work at. Walmart gets cheap, cheap labor, offsets the cost to Federal aid programs, and then reaps the benefits that their underpaid workers receive. But hey, Walmart makes bucks, and we get to buy really cheap stuff. Win … win … right? All that to say, The Warehouse is a fiction in the style of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam series. Just close enough to real life as to be completely believable, and a harbinger of coming attractions if nothing is done to protect workers like Maria Fernandez, like all of us. It’s an unflinching look at the results of the corporatization of the world, and a kick in the behind motivating us to do something about it. Ok, off the soapbox for today. Song for this book: Pa’ alante – Hurray for the Riff Raff Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley
Anonymous 27 days ago
Thanks to Mr. Hart and Crown publishing for the Advance Reader Copy of The Warehouse by Rob Hart. No Spoilers, There is a dedication at the end of the book that as Mr. Hart writes, "Beats at the heart of this book" and when I read it, it made an already powerful book into an emotional hammer. As we know, characters are what drives a great book, The Warehouse has character development that is off the charts. We hear the phrase, the characters stick with you, and sometimes we roll our eyes, but in this case for me, Paxton and Zinnia will live on in my memory. Themes of freedom and whether you would give up those freedoms to a Government or Corporation made me really think, especially in these times. Metaphors are perfect including a book that is referenced that ties into the story at the end. A really perfect ending, but don't be in a hurry to get there! Enjoy the characters and their growth and the adventure! My Favorite book of the year, can not wait for August for the rest of the world to enjoy and discuss this story. #thewarehouse #crownpublishing
Suzanne Costner 28 days ago
The setting of The Warehouse reminds me of the setup for indentured workers in Ready, Player One. (In the book, not the movie.) Parzival's description of the locator anklet and the monitoring camera attached to each worker's ear falls into the spooky techno-surveillance that we were warned of in 1984. The workers at the Cloud facility in this novel are also monitored, although with smart watches that track their job performance, health, location, everything. Which makes it really hard for corporate spies to sneak in and complete a mission, but not impossible. The book toggles back and forth between Gibson, the owner and founder of Cloud, who is blogging as he makes a final tour of facilities around the country before he hands over the reins to his successor; Paxton, whose small business was driven into bankruptcy by Cloud and now has to go to work for his rival; and Zinnia, who has ulterior motives for getting a job inside the MotherCloud facility. Readers hear Gibson's view of how his policies and innovations have "saved" America; Paxton's view as a security guard working in the facility and dealing with drug dealers, suicides, and his own feelings about Cloud's destruction of his own business; and then Zinnia's view as a worker on the floor of the shipping hub and her interactions with other workers and management. Needless to say, there is much more going on that what corporate headquarters and all their PSAs are willing to share with the public. And just when you think you have it all figured out, there is a twist (of course), that makes it even more convoluted. When you reach the end you will be questioning how close to reality and the present day that some of these scenarios really are. (That doesn't make you paranoid.) For fans of dystopian fiction, near-future cautionary tales, and espionage thrillers.
SheTreadsSoftly 28 days ago
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.
MarilynW-Reviewer 29 days ago
The world of The Warehouse is a bleak world and sadly much too close to our real world than I would like to acknowledge. People can no longer really exist outside of the world of Cloud and living in the world of Cloud is an existence not worth living. It's a life where people have learned to be happy with a sterile existence of working until they fall onto a thin futon, doing the same thing every single day, eventually just going through the motions, day in and day out. The only other choice is to be out from under the protection of Cloud, in the world that Cloud helped to destroy, a world that is barren and hot and has barely enough for survival. We follow Paxton, a member of the security team for Cloud, and Zinnia, a picker, who processes orders for Cloud, and Gibson, the founder of Cloud. There can be no happy ending in this world, at least for a very, very long time, if ever. But there are a few who are trying to change things and I can only hope they succeed. Thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for this ARC.
Kacey14 30 days ago
Rating: 4 stars This latest release by Rob Hart imagines a dystopian future where climate change has radically changed the world, and an all-encompassing corporate giant has radically changed society. In "The Warehouse", most of the world’s trade is handled by a mega company named Cloud. Cloud has also taken over government functions, agricultural functions, just about any product, service or oversight you can think of is now administered by Cloud. Mom and Pop farms and stores have been driven out of business. The story is told from three perspectives. First there is Gibson Wells. He is the founder of Cloud and he’s dying of cancer. We hear from him mainly via blog posts about his future, and his past. We learn what drove him to start Cloud, and what continues to drive him to ensure its success. Then we hear from Zinnia and Paxton. They meet on the day that they are hired to work at a Mega Cloud facility in an unnamed location. Zinnia is a ‘red shirt’, or order picker. Paxton wears a blue shirt, and works for Security. We learn about their history and their Cloud experiences in their alternating voices throughout the book. Is Cloud as benevolent as it seems on the surface? Each push to make an employee to work harder, and use fewer resources seems to be rooted in Wells’ patriarchal view that basically hard work is good for the soul. But how far can a person be pushed, watched, and controlled, and are the motives actually as benevolent as they seem? A group of disrupters is attempting to form a Union. As you might expect this is something that Security is tasked with stopping. Zinnia has a hidden agenda, and despite her better judgment finds herself attracted to Paxton. This book works on many levels. It’s a great dystopian novel. While I was reading this book a special came on CNN about the far reach of Amazon, which Cloud is clearly based on, and whether or not in the long run it will be good for society. I only watched the intro of the program because I didn’t want it to influence my reading and reviewing experience. It did make me ponder though. The book has a touch or romance. Not the lovey-dovey stuff, but romance based on finding camaraderie and comfort that we all needs as humans. The book is also a bit of a morality play. Will the characters ultimately do the right thing? What is the right thing? Will Cloud be taken in a new direction? Who wins? I’m still sorting out my feeling about the ending. At first I was frustrated with it, but now I applaud author's skill in the final scenes. I don’t want to say more and spoil the story. Do yourself a favor and pick this book up soon. I think this is obviously great for Sci-Fi and Dystopian readers. But that is not my go-to genre and I really enjoyed the book too. I like that it was fast-paced, talked about problems that we all could be facing in the near-future, and made me think about the choices I might make if I switched places with any of the characters. ‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Crown Publishing; and the author, Rob Hart; for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
72BRUIN 30 days ago
Can a company become too big, too powerful, and too. controlling? In a fictional story that may be too close to reality, the reader is confronted with these questions in what starts as a case of corporate espionage.
Anonymous 30 days ago
Get ready to explore themes of the greater good, challenging the status quo, and what happens when corporations gain too much power. Is it better to be safe or free? Convenience vs value? How much do you care about your privacy? I loved that The Warehouse makes you think while entertaining you at the same time. Like many thrillers, it’s told from different characters’ perspectives, but it made sense in this story and helped build tension. There are some surprising twists and turns, and I found the ending satisfying and appropriate. I wished there were more opportunities to connect with Zinnia and Paxton emotionally, but the book excelled in other areas: world-building, suspense, sci-fi elements, pacing, conflict, and so on. I give it 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5. You’ll like The Warehouse if you enjoyed Dark Matter or Recursion by Blake Crouch, or The Handmaid’s Tale.
Jolie 3 months ago
Paxton didn’t want to work for Cloud. The superstore ruined his life and put him out of business. But he needs a job and Cloud is hiring. Zinnia is on a mission. She needs to infiltrate Cloud, and she can’t get caught. She meets Paxton, who has been selected to work for security. Soon, Paxton and Zinnia become embroiled in a scheme that will shake Cloud to its very foundation. When I started reading The Warehouse, I was expecting it to be a book that explored how an online business ran with a dash of mystery thrown in. I was not expecting this book to suck me in from the first page. I finished this book within 2 hours. So yeah, it is a fast read. It also had a well-written plotline with almost no lag. There was a tiny bit of lag when Paxton and Zinnia took their trip, but the author was able to bring plotline back. I liked Paxton. He seemed resigned to the fact that he was going to work for Cloud. He didn’t hold any resentment towards Cloud for making his business to go under. I thought that he was blind to Zinnia’s schemes. How could he not pick up that something wasn’t quite right with her? I mean, he walked in on her using the hospital computer after her accident!! That drove me nuts. I didn’t quite like Zinnia, but I also didn’t dislike her either. Her reasons for infiltrating Cloud weren’t clear at first. I wasn’t happy that she was using Paxton, but if I were in her situation, I would have done the same thing. She was a strong individual, though. The beatdown that she gave that one guy was epic. The mystery angle of the book was well written. While the middle of the book did Zinnia’s first part of her mission, there was a second part to it. The twist to that took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting who it was!! The dystopian angle of the book, I had no problem believing. I can picture what happened to the world in this book (climate change, gun violence, unemployment) happening in real life. I also have no issue seeing an online company (who I will not name) taking over the world. I do want to add that I was grossed out about the burgers. I threw up a little in my mouth when it was revealed what they were made of. Talk about gross!! The end of The Warehouse was pretty standard. There were no dropped storylines. But, I did wonder what happened to Zinnia. I was also thrilled for Paxton and a little mad. What happened to him was not right. I would have flipped my lid if that happened to me.
MonnieR 3 months ago
Think Amazon and Walmart on steroids: What would happen if either (or both) of these already giant companies went wild and, quite literally, took over the world's commerce? At first blush, the yin-yang is easy to envision; virtually all small business would be wiped out and the only "secure" jobs essentially would be low-paying gruntwork (albeit with substantial benefits). On the other hand, the convenience for consumers would be unmatched. With state-of-the-industry order technology, huge distribution centers staffed by hundreds and a sky littered with delivery drones, anything people might want would be at their fingertips almost instantly. The question then becomes - and worthy of note is that it's a question that's being asked today - to what extent are those consumers willing to overlook the exploitation of other human beings in order for their own needs to be satisfied? This entertaining yet often disturbing book gives readers some idea of what life might be like should that happen (some, of course, will argue that we're already at that point). The scene is set at the mothership of a ginormous company called Cloud, which has "campuses" all over the country complete with living quarters, health care and recreational opportunities for the thousands of employees at the facilities. During working hours, they perform jobs assigned to them by managers supposedly according to their skills; to keep them all in line, there's a rating system that, if in any way violated, would land them back in the outside world to fend for themselves (with the promise they'd never again be employed by Cloud). That outside world is dog-eat-dog - pretty much literally - and the long lines of people waiting to submit their resumes to Cloud is a testament to their desperation to escape as well as serve yet another deterrent to any employee who might consider bucking the carefully contrived system. Enter central characters Paxton and Zinnia, both of whom applied for jobs at Cloud, each for a different, nefarious reason. I won't reveal what those reasons are, but only that neither expects to be working there after their goals have been realized. They meet for the first time briefly on the tram ride that takes them to their work and living quarters. Paxton is more interested in Zinnia than she in him, but early on, she sees an advantage in cozying up to him. Meanwhile, Gibson Wells, the creator and CEO of this monster company, is dying of cancer. Considering himself to be the savior of the free world, he starts a blog to lay out the reasons - more like justifications - behind all he's done that will culminate in the announcement of his successor. He's also announced plans to personally visit all his Cloud facilities before he succumbs, ending with the MotherCloud at which Paxton and Zinnia are employed. Told through alternating perspectives of the three characters, readers begin to get the full story - complete with a few timely surprises that keep things really interesting and, in the process, provide some food for thought that carries over to the real world (as evidenced by the twinge of buyer's remorse I felt just after finishing the book as I pushed the "place order" button to get the items in my Amazon cart). Oh well, at least they haven't activated drone delivery in my neighborhood (yet). Thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review an advance copy of this entertaining and thought-provoking book.
CaptainsQuarters 3 months ago
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . . This book was a very fast read with a bit of an agenda against big business and guns.  The setting is in a company called "Cloud" which is basically a stand-in for Amazon.  So what happens when Amazon takes over the world?  This book is an excellent look at a very negative future where this occurs. In this story ye follow two folks.  Paxton was a small business owner until Amazon . . . I mean the Cloud . . . forced him out because he couldn't compete with the pricing and contracts.  And then, with limited options, Paxton has no real choice but to take a job with said Cloud.  He goes in with the hope of getting some kind of revenge.  Only he has no idea what kind or even how to go about it. Zinna is focused, driven, and on a mission.  Money is at stake and so she is determined to get into Cloud, finish her task, and get back out again.  But success is more elusive than she would like.  She discovers that Paxton may be the key to accomplishing her goal.  But both Paxton and Zinna find that their time within the Cloud and with each other starts to change the way they view the world and their places in it. The Cloud itself was kinda fascinating.  The company is set up to be a utopia.  Employees live, work, and play in one complex.  It was designed to "save America" and be geared towards worker's rights.  Only, like in most utopias, human greed, sloth, and apathy get in the way. Both the systems in place and how they are failing were interestingly juxtaposed.  Part of this was in the employee structure.  Zinnia finds herself in one of the lowest positions, a picker responsible for putting ordered goods on the correct conveyor.  Paxton finds himself in security and in the midst of bureaucratic politics and power struggles.  Neither wants the roles they have been given.  I absolutely loved following their thoughts, daily struggles, and shifts in emotions towards the Cloud and each other. The utopian ideals are wonderfully portrayed in the form of blog entries from the dying company founder.  Interspersed within the overall plot structure, these musings helped cement and articulate both the brilliant veneer and the seedy reality.  This only furthers the absurdity and desperation of this version of future America. I really did find this book to be a fun and slightly alarming look in the potential future of big business.  The negative for me was the last several chapters of how Zinna's mission resolves and the subplot of revolt.  Neither of these elements worked in terms of plot resolution.  It felt too Hollywood in its ending and I would have preferred a much more nuanced take.  The ending in particular fell completely flat.  For all of me dislike of the end of the book, the concepts, characters, and Cloud made it totally worth reading. And for the record, I love Amazon.   Arrrr! So lastly . . . Thank you Crown Publishing!
mytwocents 3 months ago
The Warehouse gets a for its satire of the US but a for having more holes than a sieve. Hart takes a bunch of our current socioeconomic problems to their next steps (including unchecked capitalism, climate change, healthcare, guns, and income inequality), so the satire seems incredibly realistic. There are just *too many holes* in terms of these characters' motivations, their backstories, and what happens at the novel's abrupt ending. I guess that averages out to three stars? Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a DRC of this novel.
MoniqueD 3 months ago
Set in the near future, THE WAREHOUSE aims at provoking a reflection on the threat of a corporate Big Brother, if you will. I expected the MotherCloud facilities and the work environment to be idealised, at least at first, and show its cracks later, but the operating philosophy resembles more that of the world's most famous fast food empire than the perfect futuristic workplace. Cloud offers the jobs you take when you can't find anything else. The concept is genius, and Rob Hart creates an eerily believable and richly detailed world that reminded me of the great Philip K. Dick, with the vibrant descriptions that allow the grimness to seep through, creating a plausible near future. Alas, the flattering comparison stops at the worldbuilding. I was very excited to start THE WAREHOUSE, but it did not live up to my expectations, I'm afraid. I wish Mr. Hart had taken greater care in fleshing out the characters. Paxton seems merely a walking and talking tool to be ultimately used by Zinnia. Her persona is slightly more defined, but I found her unlikable: she is condescending and dismissive. Gibson Wells is, strangely enough, a well-rounded character, and I wonder if it's because of how the novel is structured: Paxton's and Zinnia's perspectives are written in third person, while Gibson's is in first person. Zinnis is made out to be so tough that she displays little humanity and for most of the book, Paxton is but a spineless wimp. I loved a secondary character, Miguel, who appeared very briefly, and was much more interesting than both main protagonists. I honestly didn't like either Paxton or Zinnia, and I didn't care how the story ended; that's not how it's supposed to be. The writing is solid, the story flows well, albeit extremely slowly. While I understand the set-up is capital, countless superfluous details could have been edited out, such as Pac-Man games, enumerations of the items sold in THE WAREHOUSE, at one point, a full page. We got the idea, they sell everything. I'm all for establishing a solid foundation, but at thirty percent, we were still at getting around the compound and learning what their jobs consisted of. It needed concrete action and fewer mundane details about life in the MotherCloud. A feeling of unease started to creep in from the beginning, but somewhat stalled; it left barely the tiniest whisper of tension mired in the mundane details of everyday life. Read THE WAREHOUSE as a satire, a standard cautionary tale on the dangers of corporate takeovers of the world, but don't expect a heart-pounding, spine-tingling thriller. It's more the story of Cloud as the first installment in a series. The narrative finally hits its stride around the 75% mark, and for me, it was way too late. The film rights have already been sold, there's already a built-in sequel at the end of the book, and I think that's where my problems with the story originate. I suspect the ending - or even the whole book - was modified for the movie(s), and that it explains all the filler that makes the story drag endlessly. Take chapter 5, which is entirely unnecessary and could have been written in a single paragraph, if at all, because it serves no purpose whatsoever. Chapter 5 seems to have been included to fill pages, as does Gibson's backstory, and a not-so-subtle wink to a sci-fi classic. I'm sorry to say that all the books mentioned by the author in the story do a better job of speculating on a possible totalitarian future than THE WAREHOUSE.