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The Store

Review

The Store

THE STORE is certainly one of James Patterson’s more unusual collaborative efforts. This fast-paced work, co-authored with Richard DiLallo, is a rare futuristic offering from Patterson --- even if the novel’s future is but a few minutes away --- and is arguably more in the nature of a parable or satire than a speculation. Indeed, while one may reflexively compare this book and its events to George Orwell’s 1984, a more apt comparison --- once one gets deeper into the story --- would be GULLIVER’S TRAVELS, if author Jonathan Swift was a millennial and was inclined to satirize the world’s buying habits at this point in time.

As is manifestly obvious from its first page, THE STORE is modeled after amazon.com, even though it does not expressly mention that continually evolving online and omnipresent institution by name. No, the name of the store is...The Store. It’s not catchy, by any means, but it gets the job done, and so does The Store itself, which has everything you want --- and, in some cases, knows what you want before you even want it. Anyone who has ever been just a bit startled when an ad pops up online for a product that they happened to mention in an email or on an Evernote-type application will immediately appreciate this book, with its drones that are seemingly everywhere, monitoring everything and everyone as they deliver merchandise to consumers. What THE STORE does really well, though, is examine the other side of the equation.

"There are no new revelations set forth here, but the novel is more of a convincing extrapolation into what might be rather than a presentation of what is.... [I]t’s ultimately a fun, genre-straddling book with a number of Patterson’s trademark twists and turns..."

You may ask, “What other side?” You order, you wait a day or two, and your shipment arrives. Not much care is given to those who gather your batteries, books, CDs and clothing and put them in one of those now-iconic boxes that are soon on their way to you. THE STORE puts a face to those folks, in the form of Jacob and Megan Brandeis. Jacob and Megan are Manhattanites involved in a branch of the publishing industry who find that their jobs have been made redundant. Worse, the book that they have worked on for a couple of years has been rejected by their publisher. The Store, of course, is both directly and indirectly responsible for this state of affairs. However, it does have plenty of jobs available for what are known as “pickers,” or warehouse workers who fill orders.

In due course, Jacob and Megan pack up their son and daughter and move to what is basically The Store’s company town in Nebraska, which is a far cry from the canyons of Manhattan. It doesn’t seem bad, for a heartbeat or two. They have a spacious new home, wonderful neighbors, and the type of food they want delivered to their door before they even know they want it. It’s way too good to be true. In fact, it is true but not good. There are drones all over the place. Everyone knows where they are at every given point. The police are just a little too efficient.

It just so happens that the Brandeises are collaborating on another book --- an exposé about The Store --- and trying to do it in secret. Nothing, however, escapes the notice of The Store. Worse, Jacob and Megan’s children, who mightily resisted the move initially, appear to be falling under the spell of the town. Actually, Jacob notices that Megan seems to be getting a little wobbly herself. Jacob makes a last-ditch effort to get the story out to the real world, the one beyond The Store’s company town. But will he make it? And even if he does, will anyone care? Those are just two of the questions that are asked and answered by the end of the book.

There are no new revelations set forth here, but the novel is more of a convincing extrapolation into what might be rather than a presentation of what is. The argument has been made that the real-world model for The Store has gotten too big, and if one is inclined toward that proposition, then THE STORE provides some nightmarish scenarios that would support reining things in a bit. Regardless, it’s ultimately a fun, genre-straddling book with a number of Patterson’s trademark twists and turns, a good companion for the closing days of summer. It remains to be seen, though, if you’ll be able to buy it from certain online merchants…

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 18, 2017

The Store
by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

  • Publication Date: August 14, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316395455
  • ISBN-13: 9780316395458