Companion Bot, Anyone? | Book Review on What January Remembers by Faith Gardener
Title: What January Remembers
Author: Faith Gardener
Publication Date: November 1st, 2022
Hi friends. I'm back with another hot take on the latest books I've read. This one was on NetGalley and at the recommendation of one of my favorite bookstagram accounts (Pink Ski Mask) I decided to check it out. This one is a little different than what I usually read. It's Christmas vibes with a little bit of sci-fi mixed with thriller. Sci-Fi novels make my eyes cross, let's just be honest here. My mom is a huge sci-fi fan and I've never been able to see the appeal. Now that doesn't mean that I won't enjoy a good science fiction story every now and then, as long as there are no aliens. Not an alien fan at all. Frankly, if any actually exists, I would much rather leave them alone out there instead of trying to communicate. If we were meant to meet, we would have already, that's just my take on the situation. Anyway, this book piqued my interest because of the Christmas and murder vibes. Two of my favorite things. Is that weird? I promise I'm not a murderer. I just like reading about it. As my favorite reading rainbow man said: "Let's take a look, at this book." (I might be paraphrasing)
'Tis the season for another dysfunctional family Christmas story …
This time, with murder. And robots.
The Jaggers were once a tight-knit family. But after their mother’s tragic death years ago, the four children and their father have drifted further apart. The children grew up, moved away, and now have lives of their own. And Dad? Well, let’s just say his new live-in friend January also has a permanent residence in the uncanny valley.
After a disturbing, violent Christmas two years ago the Jaggers wish they could forget, they’re reuniting in their childhood southern California home dubbed “the Pink Castle” to give celebrating the holidays one more shot this year. But in the days before they gather, the children each get a sinister note that reads Your mother was murdered.
Could this be the bizarre work of January?
Or is one of the Jaggers hiding a horrible, guilty secret?
So apparently this is book three in the Jolvix series. Didn't know this until just now, when I was grabbing the synopsis off Amazon. I do believe the stories can be standalones though. Didn't feel like I was missing out on any information. Anyway, I am wondering: If science and modern technology progress enough to give you the robot version of your spouse, would you jump at the chance? Especially if your actual spouse had passed away? I feel like enough movies exist to show us that this is a bad idea, but on second thought, plenty of movies are out there that tell us not to mess with aliens, but people are still desperate to locate and/or communicate with them for whatever reason. I do wish they'd stop. So far, I have yet to see a movie with a friendly alien and I'd much rather not get barbecued because you couldn't learn to leave well enough alone.
I really enjoyed this story. It was fun reading a thriller/suspense type of novel with a science fiction feel to it and a little sprinkle of Christmas to get you in the mood. After all, is it really a holiday season if there's no family disfunction? So, let's take a closer look at what I liked versus what I didn't like about What January Remembers by Faith Gardener.
The complicated family relationships. Each child had a complicated childhood, but the one common factor in all of it was their mother, Janelle Jagger. She was a whirlwind of toxic energy and emotional manipulation. The lengths she went to, to garner sympathy and coerce her family into bending to her whims was heartbreaking and also fascinating.
Each person in the family remembered her differently, but all of them wished her dead at some point. I enjoyed watching Gardener navigate through these relationships. She managed to keep each one unique. Represented the countless people that dread the holidays because it brings nothing but stress and headaches. Families can be ugly. Families can be complicated and leave you feeling conflicted for loving the people that bring you the most pain. Each Jagger had a lot of traumas, and they all chose to deal with it in different ways.
January was hilarious. Speaking of the different ways they chose to deal with their trauma, Papa Jagger went and got himself a companion bot named January who closely resembled his dead wife. Which is super creepy and weird, considering how crazy she drove him. January was humanlike in appearance, aside from the soulless eyes, but she was still a robot. Her habit of being painfully literal was actually hilarious more often than not. I don't know if that was meant to be funny, but I found myself snickering at January quite a bit throughout the book.
Everyone was scared of the robots, but they should have been scared of the humans. Now don't get me wrong, the idea of a companion bot is unbelievably creepy, even if they do help with the laundry and the cooking but everyone framed them as if they were these horrible creatures. In reality, it was the humans in this book that were actually horrible. Especially Jesse. I really couldn't stand him. He had violent outbursts that left a ton of damage in its wake. The next-door neighbor was a jerk that liked to abuse his companion bot and abused his actual wife before she got tired of his crap and left him. They tried hard to convince themselves that the companion bots were inherently evil, when in reality, they were the evil ones.
The ending was super abrupt. I was told that there was a reason for this, and while I am adult enough to admit that the reason makes total sense, I still feel some type of way about the fact that it was just suddenly done. Felt almost like "...okay I'm bored with this now." Maybe because I was enjoying the story so much, I was in my feelings when I turned the page and it said: "acknowledgements" I was HURT you hear me? Hurt. I still had so many questions. That is one of the heartbreaking things about reading. You get to know the characters, you start to like them, and want to know more about them. Then suddenly BOOM! The book is over, and you'll never know anything about them again. It's very upsetting.
Definitely! If you're looking for something to get you in the festive mood, but you don't want to stray too far away from the thriller vibes that you're used to, this is the perfect book for you! Not everything about the holiday has to involve a meet cute. It isn't always snuggly vibes and good times.
The book is set to release on November 1st, 2022. It's listed as $2.99 on Kindle, which is a pretty good price if you ask me.
There you have it folks! Definitely add this one to your TBR. You won't regret it. If you do decide to buy it, make sure you find me on Instagram and Facebook and let me know what you thought of it. I am always down for a book discussion!
Happy reading babes! ❤