Originally published: 15 August 2019
Author: Rob Hart
Published by: Bantam Press
Length: 368 pages
Reading dates: 17-20 August 2019
‘TO BEAT THE SYSTEM, YOU NEED TO BE INSIDE IT’
After The Cloud destroyed his business, Paxton never thought he’d be working Security for the company that ruined his life. He merely sees it as a stop gap to help him get back on his feet. But before long he realises that maybe it isn’t so bad after all, especially compared to what’s left outside – he has accommodation, a job and safety. And he meets Zinnia, another new recruit and begins to have hope for a shared future.
Although because we hear from Zinnia, we know that she is not what she seems. She is actually a corporate spy, sent into the Cloud facility to discover what energy power source they are using to make everything function and she sees Paxton as a useful, if unwitting ally.
I love dystopian fiction, especially books that are set in a world we can still recognise as it makes the story all the more convincing. The premise of this reminded me of The Circle which I read last year – not the story so much but the way companies have control over the staff.
It’s not clear when it is set but I don’t think it is that far in the future. It is clear global warming has become a major problem as has overpopulation. The world is not a nice or safe place to be, especially after what became known as the Black Friday Massacres, which meant in-person retail all but disappeared. People are too scared (and lazy) to leave their homes and that is where the Cloud company comes in. They are essentially an online retail company that has a monopoly on all retail in the United States. Reminding me of what an Amazon warehouse must be like, the Cloud facilities deal with thousands of online orders a day, has hundreds of employees who work long hours without proper breaks, trying to meet impossible targets. The sky around the facility is dark with the drones that come and go at all times of the day and night.
Each member of staff is assigned to a job type and the shirt they wear indicates which area they work in. Zinnia is in the warehouse, picking items off the shelf for delivery and wears red. Paxton wears blue in security. Everyone lives on site (there are many MotherCloud facilities around the United States) and there are food outlets and leisure facilities. Most of what the employees need, they order from the Cloud and it is delivered to their room. Everyone also wears a CloudBand on their wrist at all times. It helps them with their work, paying for goods, gives them access to the areas they need to go and generally allows the company to monitor their every move. Having just worn a MagicBand at Disneyworld for the last 2 weeks, which essentially does the same thing, this made me feel pretty uncomfortable!
I loved The Warehouse – the world Rob Hart has devised is scarily realistic. Told from the point of view of Paxton, Zinnia but also Cloud creator Gibson Wells, who we hear from in a series of blog posts, this is slow to build (but not in a bad way). Hart takes his time describing the new reality and the detail makes it all the move chilling. And then it turns into a romping good thriller – as we, the reader start to find out some of the dark secrets the Cloud are hiding, and Zinnia gets closer to her goal. I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough and it left me wanting more. I will be recommending it to everyone! 5 shiny gold stars from me!
The story was inspired by the tragic death of Maria Fernandes who suffocated in her car whilst napping between her three shifts a day at different Dunkin’ Donuts stores. It is worth reading his comments at the back that details lots of shocking ways corporations treat their employees.
Many thanks to Tom Hill at Penguin Random House for sending me an advanced copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me on the blog tour. Be sure to check out the other stops below…
About the author:
Rob Hart has been a political reporter, the communications director for a politician, a commissioner for the city of New York and is currently a publisher. The Warehouse is his first standalone novel.