The best dystopias are the ones that take the world as is and tilt it just a little off its axis in a realistic way. Octavia Butler’s Parable duology took the circumstances of white supremacy and income inequality and added a heat-ravaged climate so devastating that it fractured global society. Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America took the anti-Semitism of the WASP-dominated 1930s United States and added the specter of Europe’s fascist politics made manifest in a Nazi sympathizer being elected President. Those two have always spoken to me more than 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 and I think they have more to say.
The Warehouse does the same and while it’s not on the level of Butler or Roth, it’s good in its own right because it’s so believable. Imagine if Amazon basically did what it wants to do: control the means of production for literally everything and send the country into a neo-libertarian death spiral. Hart builds this story in a precise way, using the broad strokes of the dystopia without wallowing in it. This allows the story to blossom.
The problem is, it’s not the most exciting story. It revolves around three people: a random worker, another worker who’s secretly doing corporate espionage, and the CEO. The two leads are fine as far as leads go. I couldn’t connect much with Paxton. Zinnia was more developed and some credit to Rob Hart, a white guy, for writing a decent black woman POV, though he could have done a better job of grappling with how this company advances white supremacy. The CEO’s musings were interesting enough; Hart is smart not to make him a super villain but he believes enough of his bs to make him think of himself of a hero.
Some parts of the book drag, and again, that could be because I didn’t feel invested in the lead. But I liked the end as I appreciate the end of any work of dystopia that grapples with the world it makes. So while I didn’t like it as much as those who recommended it to me did, I did appreciate it and was appropriately bummed out by its message.