The Mandibles

The Mandibles

A Family, 2029-2047

eBook - 2016
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Baker & Taylor
A near-future family saga spanning 18 tumultuous years that redefine the nature of the United States explores the aftershocks of an economically devastating sovereign debt and their impact on a once-prosperous American family.


With dry wit and psychological acuity, this near-future novel explores the aftershocks of an economically devastating U.S. sovereign debt default on four generations of a once-prosperous American family. Down-to-earth and perfectly realistic in scale, this is not an over-the-top Blade Runner tale. It is not science fiction.

In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Overnight, on the international currency exchange, the &;almighty dollar&; plummets in value, to be replaced by a new global currency, the &;bancor.&; In retaliation, the president declares that America will default on its loans. &;Deadbeat Nation&; being unable to borrow, the government prints money to cover its bills. What little remains to savers is rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation.

The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their ninety-seven-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also&;as the U.S. economy spirals into dysfunction&;the challenge of sheer survival.

Recently affluent, Avery is petulant that she can&;t buy olive oil, while her sister, Florence, absorbs strays into her cramped household. An expat author, their aunt, Nollie, returns from abroad at seventy-three to a country that&;s unrecognizable. Her brother, Carter, fumes at caring for their demented stepmother, now that an assisted living facility isn&;t affordable. Only Florence&;s oddball teenage son, Willing, an economics autodidact, will save this formerly august American family from the streets.

The Mandibles is about money. Thus it is necessarily about bitterness, rivalry, and selfishness&;but also about surreal generosity, sacrifice, and transformative adaptation to changing circumstances.

Publisher: New York :, HarperCollins,, 2016
ISBN: 9780062328267
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file,rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

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Feb 15, 2020

My local library has taken to labelling their fiction book collection as ‘Romance’ ‘Australian’ or in this case, ‘Humour’. Anyone reading this book for a chuckle would be sadly disappointed. Sure, there are spikes of satire and parody, but this dystopian novel could only be called ‘humour’ by someone who shares its libertarian, anti-Government, gun-toting politics. And that sure ain't me.

Margaret Atwood has famously said in relation to The Handmaid’s Tale that she only wrote about things that had already occurred somewhere in the world at some time. Dystopian fiction – especially in the near future – is at its best, I think, when it just extrapolates slightly from current events. In this regard, Shriver does pretty well. Our increasing acceptance of digital monetary transactions, the rise of China and Russia as world powers, the increasing Latin-Americanizing of the United States – all these things are happening now, and the book doesn’t demand a great deal of imagination to accept the scenario she is drawing.

But the scenario itself calls from her a great deal of explanation – too much explanation.

...That said, I have found myself thinking about this book quite a bit since I finished it. When I first started it, I was also watching the excellent TV series 'Years and Years' on SBS On Demand, which I found a bit confusing as they both deal with near-future dystopias. Once I settled into Shriver’s book, and left behind the explanations and moved into the family dynamics, I was transfixed. I still don’t like where I ended up though.

For my complete review, please visit

Apr 17, 2019

author recommended by Katherine H

Jan 12, 2018

Terrifying, hilarious, implausible, believable, erudite, slapstick, economic, dystopian, caustic, warm, heroic.

Mar 29, 2017

Thought-provoking and original. Also kind of scary in these uncertain times - it made me think of how my family would fare in an economic crisis. This book is not perfect, but it certainly offers a new perspective on what could happen to our country.

Interesting that many of the objections listed below seem to be politically based. The book is not a political screed, it merely posits one possible scenario for America in the future. Lighten up, folks!

Dec 30, 2016

The future 2027 financial scenario that unfolds in this book is plausible: the collapse of the US economy due to its gigantic national debt leads to a lack of confidence in the US dollar by other countries and by its main debtor (China). But I don’t think the meek submission of US citizens to confiscation of their assets rings true. The story relies on societal apathy caused by prolonged liberal "nanny state" policies of entitlements that lead to a slow slide into lethargy and denial of reality, similar to the proverbial frog in a pot of water that is slowly heated to boiling. That said, the book certainly drives home the fragility of paper and electronic “wealth” on which our economies are based compared to hard assets like food, fuel, land, and even useful skills. There is humour in the book and it’s quite clever in imagining new words to reflect what’s happening in society 10 years hence like “boomerpoops" for the long-lived baby boomers sucking back Social Security and delaying inheritance to their frustrated descendants. Although the scenario painted is extreme and the characters are given to speechifying, the book makes you think about the world in a different light and is definitely worth a read. If you’re a knowledge worker you may want to brush up on your survival skills!

Dec 01, 2016

Interesting and thought provoking. At times a bit
preachy, but generally well written. ( Too bad some
some people didn't bother to finish it before posting
scathing reviews). It is definitely worth a look.

Sep 26, 2016

Very disappointing. Having really liked several of her books, "We Need to Talk about Kevin", "The Post Birthday World", "So Much For That", and more, this book was a real let down. The writing and story telling are reminiscent of her early work "Checker and the Derailleurs" which was not that good. Boring characters who have boring conversations. I read just over 100 pages of this newest work and moved onto something else. I hope her next book will be back to the style of "Big Brother" or "Game Control". both of these books made the reader confront some not very nice opinions and beliefs within ourselves that we are not too proud of but, damn, there they are!

Sep 18, 2016

I can't believe this book is getting so many recommendations - New York Times?! - without mentioning that it is a full on libertarian screed. Big bad government, xenophobia and the gold standard all wrapped up in a dystopian future. She tells a good tale, but it wasn't a good read because of all the proselytizing. (SPOILER ALERT) I have to admit the part about the wall being built by the Mexicans to keep Americans OUT was pretty funny. Thank god I didn't actually pay for this book - I love the SPL!

athompson10 Sep 04, 2016

Creative, inventive, sometimes bitingly satirical, though the economic theorizing gets a little tiresome.

Aug 31, 2016

Well, at least it's well-written! Although the so-called economic theory which the author espouses gets a little tedious after its umpteenth iteration. Libertarians and deficit hawks should be happy, if they read this, that is.

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Feb 02, 2018

mooyii_T thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 99 and 27


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