Review: January Fifteenth by Rachel Swirsky

58724591When Tordotcom reached out to me with this novella, I gladly accepted, as the premise sounded intriguing!

So thanks to the author, as well as Tordotcom for the review copy!~

January Fifteenth—the day all Americans receive their annual Universal Basic Income payment.

For Hannah, a middle-aged mother, today is the anniversary of the day she took her two children and fled her abusive ex-wife.

For Janelle, a young, broke journalist, today is another mind-numbing day interviewing passersby about the very policy she once opposed.

For Olivia, a wealthy college freshman, today is “Waste Day”, when rich kids across the country compete to see who can most obscenely squander the government’s money.

For Sarah, a pregnant teen, today is the day she’ll journey alongside her sister-wives to pick up the payment­­s that undergird their community—and perhaps embark on a new journey altogether.

In this near-future science fiction novella by Nebula Award-winning author Rachel Swirsky, the fifteenth of January is another day of the status quo, and another chance at making lasting change.

January Fifteenth imagines a near-future world where everyone in the US gets a Universal Basic Income and follows four different individuals through their UBI Day.

  • Hannah is a middle aged woman with two young sons who is on the run from her abusive ex-wife.
  • Janelle is a young journalist who is interviewing people about UBI while taking care of her trans younger sister.
  • Olivia is a rich college student who is spending the day with her rich friends seeing who can most ridiculously waste the government’s money.
  • Sarah is a pregnant teen in a polygamous cult who walk to the office to pick up their UBI payments.

I enjoyed January Fifteenth a lot. I had a hard time putting it down, so I read it in one go. Though I can honestly say I don’t have much of an opinion on Universal Basic Income, each point of view was presented in a way that I understood them. Each character felt well fleshed out, and I enjoyed their stories.

We follow each character starting in the morning of January Fifteenth and then throughout the day into the night. One thing that seems inconsequential but that worked for me a lot was that the points of view were presented in the same order throughout the novella, so it was easier for me to keep them organized in my brain space until I was used to them.

It was well written and engaging, and I really enjoyed seeing the story from very different points of view. Definitely worth a read, if you’re into multi-POV stories, or stories with more politically motivated themes. 4/5 stars!~


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