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The Mandibles Audiobook

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047

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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 Rating

4.2 (263 )
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4.4 (236 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Moe Oakland, CA, United States 06-30-16
    Moe Oakland, CA, United States 06-30-16 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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
  •  
    M. Y. Mim 02-09-17
    M. Y. Mim 02-09-17

    mymim

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Charles 10-06-16
    Charles 10-06-16 Member Since 2015
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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
  •  
    Dusky 09-29-16
    Dusky 09-29-16
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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
  •  
    Andrew 09-16-16
    Andrew 09-16-16 Member Since 2015
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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
  •  
    Maria United States 06-25-16
    Maria United States 06-25-16 Member Since 2015
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    "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
  •  
    tapleigh new canaan, ct, United States 08-17-16
    tapleigh new canaan, ct, United States 08-17-16 Member Since 2014
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    "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
  •  
    Fattail 09-17-17
    Fattail 09-17-17
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    "Prescient"

    The Mandibles describes the upcoming collapse of a society that has been built upon a facade of debt and a fiat monetary system. It takes place in the future USA but you can watch the prequel take place in Venezuela today. The debt, demographics, deleveraging, and technology all play their role in this dystopian debacle. At first the catalysts act slowly, but as each actor adapts and reacts to the slow motion disaster, the half life of each accommodation to the new reality shortens and speeds up the process. Those who panic first preserve their wealth the best. Those who call the government's bluff on their threats to use their monopoly of force to rob the citizens of their assets and savings also benefit.

    This is the future for the USA. Our debts cannot be paid. Our budget deficits cannot be sustained. Our unfunded liabilities, like social security, medicare, and private pensions will be inflated away. Capital controls and asset forfeiture are our future.

    Use this novel to plan accordingly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Just Browsing 09-09-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Fascinating economic and character study "

    This book is really interesting, both from the point of view of the fragile interconnected world economy, and as a rich character study of an extended family. Unfortunately, it was marred by a narrator who had trouble pronouncing a number of words (examples: affluent, behemoth, mores [should be MORE-ays], and nee). This is unfortunately an ever more frequent problem, which ultimately falls on the shoulders of the editors. Disappointing marring of an otherwise great book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Skye D. 08-09-17
    Skye D. 08-09-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Great story, a scary foretelling?"

    I really enjoyed listening to this book. the performance took a while to get used to, but once the cadence was learned it was easy enough to follow.

    I'm somewhat nervous this is a possible future for America. it was just detailed and reasonable enough to frighten me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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