Dave Eggers wrote a metaphorical novel in 2015 warning about the control users eagerly provide social media start-ups and search engine giants. In The Circle, employees live, work, eat, and play within a professional compound where their lives are transparently transmitted in return for likes and retweets. Rob Hart taps into that zeitgeist with The Warehouse, which is more thriller than notice. He presents a future where the world’s all-consuming online retailer, The Cloud, provides their employees work, housing, and healthcare to feed their consumption while video monitors proselytize the gospel of consumerism and fresh burgers ground out contentment.
Eggers’ Circle is Spielberg’s Minority Report (minus the chase scenes and Tom Cruise’s hair); Hart’s Warehouse is Michael Bay’s The Island with all the chase, hair, and explosions it can muster.
Aside from the PSAs and scripted commercials, which make for a jarring read but will work spectacularly in the upcoming Ron Howard adaptation, Hart splits the narrative between three main characters: Paxton, a former CEO now working the Cloud security beat; Zinnia, a corporate spy with killer looks and moves; Gibson Wells, the Bezos-ian All-Father of the Cloud, dying of cancer. Each have their own voice, a separate pattern that makes for an enjoyable read: Paxton’s defeatism; Zinnia’s mission-oriented goals; Gibson’s Republican rhetoric. Paxton and Zinnia learn to say hello to the Cloud, and each other, while Gibson embarks on his final victory lap.
Hart builds within the Cloud an environment that is both SciFi cool and hauntingly wanting. Whereas Eggers’ Circle wants to keep their drones happy and active and fresh, the Cloud provides the basest of lifestyles. And aside from its energy and news-based initiatives, the Cloud solely seems focused on consumerism – not media or communications or even space travel that all Prime members now expect. Hart digs deep into this environment but in doing so ignores any outside industry, religion, or even sports, which all must surely exist yet are never touched. Instead he presents a question. Does menial work, stable pay, and basic housing equate happiness? Zinnia’s answer is a rocket-fire of a no. Paxton’s response is murkier. Hart’s follow-up is even deeper. Can freedom be minimized in favor of security? The Warehouse is a surprisingly entertaining ride of an answer.
Thanks to NetGalley and Crown for this ARC. Wasn’t sent to me via drone, but I guess it’s all only a matter of time now…