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Publisher's Summary

With dry wit and psychological acuity, this near-future novel explores the aftershocks of an economically devastating US 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. With "Deadbeat Nation" being unable to borrow, the government prints money to cover its bills. What little remains for savers is rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation.

The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their 97-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment but also - as the US 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 73 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.

©2016 Lionel Shriver (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Moe
  • Oakland, CA, United States
  • 06-30-16

So that's what the left and the right have in common!!!

Anyone who dislikes liberals or conservatives in this present climate should give this a listen with an open mind. The two views of humanity and society DO have some similarities and this book is a commentary on both through the adventures of the book's protagonist. There does seem to be a conservative bent in terms of the government role in American life, the definition of freedom, and taking responsibility for oneself. The liberal POV is exhibited in the characters' incredulity around the conflation of change and loss of identity, clinging desperately to one stagnant view of American identity and the need & respect for family, kindness and community
I have met the characters and find them plausible, overall. I don't believe city dwellers would be as thick as they are portrayed, but understand how this keeps the story moving.
Good listen and riveting with how plausible this dystopian future is. Going too far in either direction could wreak havoc on everything!
Fight for your freedom, don't believe everything you hear, your ally can come in any shade, always be prepared, keep your ear to the ground & always, always be kind to one another... Unless,you REALLY can't. Sometimes, it may pay to be the bad guy in order to be good.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Not Shriver's best, but her books are always worth a read

When the book sticks to the story and the wonderful characters, it's compelling. Unfortunately, the prose all too frequently mires in lengthy, tedious, largely irrelevant economic theorizing. The story itself provides great demonstrations of the dramatic economic situations; showing works, telling doesn't. Often witty, this book is a must for us Shriver devotees. I'd recommend many other titles to the uninitiated.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Best audio book thus far! Well written!

The narrator did an awesome job describing the economic situation. I hope the author will consider following the Mandibles in the new world. The Characters made for great stories!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Most Excellent!

Should be required reading for every US citizen. We all need to be more mindful of the future our countries current "Economic Policy" is creating. This is only scary because of how close to reality the facts of the book truly are.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Dark, Smart, Funny

Tart prose, black humor, great dialogue, highly recommend. It's an American story , not far fetched.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Maria
  • United States
  • 06-25-16

Meh...

I love doomer fiction and this story had so much potential! But it just fell flat. The storyline was a great one -- wealthy family falls to the level of homelessness after the economy collapses. Something about the delivery was just off, though. The narrator did a fantastic job, but the author's superfluous use of big words was too distracting at times. It's like he had a thesaurus at hand, and felt the need to throw a big, new word in every few paragraphs. I'm an avid reader and have a better-than-average vocabulary, and even I found this to be a bit over the top obnoxious. Also, the characters weren't very likable. Some of them were down right detestable, but it's hard to pull through a novel when you don't really care about what happens to any of the characters. Yes, there were a few great scenes that were really interesting and almost got me to the point where I was really getting into the novel, but enevitably the dumping of information via the guise of family bickering amongst everyone was just too much. Finally, the big leap in time just threw the whole thing off for me. The story was just getting good at the point where the Mandible family was forced to leave their urban home and head upstate to a family farm when *bloop* -- suddenly the story flashes forward a decade into the future. I get what the author was trying to do, but he lost me at that point. It just killed the momentum. I tried to stick with it, but I ended up deleting the book about two hours from the end. I was bored. Still, it has a ton of potential and maybe other listeners out there will like it better. Lots of talk of economic and financial systems. Horrifyingly real.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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"Atlas Shrugged" for the 21st century

A chilling and entirely plausible tale which doesn't require much of a stretch of the imagination.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • tapleigh
  • new canaan, ct, United States
  • 08-17-16

Depressing and very negative

What would have made The Mandibles better?

I was hopeful that this book would be interesting and insightful. All it did was make me angry and annoyed. I don't need this negativity in my life so I bagged it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • georage
  • Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 08-03-16

entertaining but a bit wonkish

a nice enough story, but the economics lessons come on stronger than the dollar after another Greek euro default.

the plot stretches credulity, and characters don't act like people would really act. for example, the mandibles lose their home and car because one man holds them at gunpoint. in reality the family would have called the cops ... the fire dept showed up the chapter previous to fight a fire. instead, the family walks hundreds of miles in winter to a remote farm? i think they would have waited for the gunman to leave the house at the very least, or gotten another gun. silly stuff like that made me wince.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant

Where does The Mandibles rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Surprisingly, this is one of the top 5 audiobooks I have listened to. I say surprisingly because at first, I thought the in-depth discussions and understanding the Madiables have throughout their family about university level, complicated economic scenarios was forced, implausible and unrealistic.......but as it turns out, the wit was so sharp, the characters so well developed and engaging, and the understanding of the economic information so core to the suspension of disbelief, you first forgive, and then are thankful for the insertion of the dialogue. If you're a political science or economics major, you will be riveted by this book. I might caution you however, if you are the average American, think CNN is real news and believe the current political status quo in America is reasonable, this book is going to be not only a little heavy but practically unintelligible. <br/><br/>I was so impressed by this book it was the one which spurred me to write my first review, 146 books later.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful