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The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  8,946 ratings  ·  1,357 reviews
The year is 2029, and nothing is as it should be. The very essence of American life, the dollar, is under attack. In a coordinated move by the rest of the world’s governments, the dollar loses all its value. The American President declares that the States will default on all its loans–prices skyrocket, currency becomes essentially worthless, and we watch one family struggl ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 21st 2016 by Harper (first published May 5th 2016)
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Nina He hired a coyote to cross the border back into Mexico. He leads adventure tours there again.
Francois It's already a reality in some workplaces and not far fetched at the time Shriver wrote this. …moreIt's already a reality in some workplaces and not far fetched at the time Shriver wrote this. (less)

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Start your review of The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047
Shriver does a good line in biting social commentary, attacking the U.S. health care system in So Much for That and the obesity epidemic in Big Brother. Here she aims at Atwood-style near-future speculative fiction and takes as her topic the world economy. This could have been fun, but there are a few big problems. Worst is the sheer information overload: tons of economic detail crammed into frequent, wearisome conversations. One character is an economics professor, another a teenage prodigy who ...more
Leo Robertson
Will try and keep it brief.

Five main issues- three big, two small.

1. Previously covered material.
2. Finance.
3. Too many characters
4. Sci-fi.
5. The future of the novel.

1. So Much For That did healthcare, Big Brother did uncomfortable house guests, A Perfectly Good Family did inheritance- all this comes back with weaker insights than before.

2. External forces can be an interesting device if they sometimes enter a story to create havoc: hurricanes, floor opens up to lava pit, asteroid kills lover e
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to 7jane by: BBC news online book feature
Music: The Smiths - "Back To The Old House"
(my pinterest page created for this book (SPOILERS): )

It's 2029. Five years after 'Stonage', when all electricity was lost for a long time, the US national debt finally wipes out the dollar, causing chaos for years. We follow the story of the Mandible family - already declining family, rich due to some ancestors' engine designs - how it lost pretty much (almost) everything (except some glasses and silver knives),
Mary Lins
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: complete
The Buck Stops

Lionel Shriver's new novel, "The Mandibles: A Family 2029-2047" is captivating, and at the same time a humorous and chilling work of speculative fiction. Early on, one of Shiver's characters, in referencing the works: "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "1984", says: "Plots set in the future are about what we fear in the present. They're not about the future at all." Since this particular character turns out to be extremely wrong about a lot of things, I take this as a wink to the reader t
Elyse  Walters
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition by George Newbern....who was animated & great!

“Good Morning, Fellow American’s”......

“Mom, Alvarado is on in a minute”. ( President Alvarado)
“That’s okay, sweetie ( shouting from the kitchen), I’ll watch it later”.

And why didn’t mom want to hear the president speak?
Like many Americans she found Government business & economic details boring .....
Ha.....until it affected her family ‘big time’.

During the State of the union speech - American’s learn that no more than a $100 p
Bill Kupersmith
Mar 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
There are so few few books I've dnfed so close to the end, which shows they achieve a special kind of badness. This is one of the most painful books I've ever attempted, the characters are totally flat, moral & spiritual values nonexistent, & every episode uniformly dreary. It's a shame because I expect the author's basic economic and social beliefs are pretty close to mine, & the dystopia she creates (with a 77% rate of income tax and the United States reduced to the level of a third-world coun ...more
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The following review from 2016 shows how close Shriver's dystopian vision was, in light of the current Coronavirus outbreak - note the prescient toilet roll panic buying!

"Complex systems collapse catastrophically”

I decided to re-read this, the twelfth novel by one of my favourite authors, while reflecting on the current doom-mongering about the state of the world – basically to reassure myself that things could be much, much worse!

In this novel, set in the
Jun 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
This book tells the tale of the economic collapse in the US in 2029. Cabbage is $20 a head. The robots were once called “bots” but they’ve taken over so many jobs, they’re now called “robs”. Showers are taken once a week to save water. There’s a new global currency, the “bancor”. The US President announces that the government is defaulting on all loans. Banks shut down and accounts are frozen. Inflation is out of control leading to chaos. The government demands that citizens turn over all gold t ...more
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Lionel Shriver, I decided, is more essayist than novelist. Though I loved loved loved We Need to Talk About Kevin, and I definitely appreciated The Post Birthday World, the rest of her books have felt like glorified and often sanctimonious rants that are frankly annoying to read.
The Mandibles is a finance driven treatise about a new kind of apocalypse - rather than zombies or religious uprising, the new president defaults on America's loans and now there is a scarcity to everything and the whole
Karen McP
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always, Shriver's books are challenging, harsh and thought-provoking. I found some of the financial detail a bit hard going, and it's hardly a feel-good book, but it was darkly funny at times and I would recommend. ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
I am glad I took accounting classes along with working in the computer lab in college when I pick up books like this! Lionel Shriver, the author of 'The Mandibles', is obviously an intelligent writer who has kept up with current dotcom drawing-board schemes and Kickstarter inventors of new products beyond cellphones and tablets; but this densely written, post-scarcity science-fiction novel about an impoverished 2029-2047 United States is also a great example of a talent to postulate knowledgeabl ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: almost-favorites
Lionel Shriver is not for everyone. That said, I need to read more Lionel Shriver.

She's just... my latest girl crush. And one of the most important authors out there when it comes to igniting healthy debate and challenging authority and the status quo. In the four novels I've read of her 13, she's tackled: the U.S. health care system (So Much For That), obesity (Big Brother), the nature vs. nurture debate (the absolutely riveting, 5-star We Need To Talk About Kevin), and now, via the all-too-pl
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is easily the best novel that I've read this year. You probably know the story in broad strokes. In one sense, it's a renegade economics textbook presented in the form of a novel with brilliantly realized characters. In another sense, it's a form of doomer porn, or to use the author's own coinage, it's an example of "apocalyptic economics."

I don't think this is necessarily a prophetic book. The eventual economic melt-down of the USA might not result from a cabal of competitor nations cookin
Sep 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Here’s another three star novel I have deeply mixed feelings about. Prior to reading ‘The Mandibles’ I came across a review somewhere that faulted it for including too many long conversations about economics. This actually attracted me to it, because long conversations about economics are my jam. Not enough novels include them. It was not the fixation with economics that bothered me about this novel, but its politics. I’ll start with what I enjoyed, though. ‘The Mandibles’ follows the titular fa ...more
Britta Böhler
Sometimes a bit (too) heavy on the economics Shriver wants to get across, but the story is inventive. Satirical and quite funny at times. And above all, in typical Shriver-fashion, an unusual view on the ethics of the economical crisis it portrays: the good guys are not so 'good' after all...

All in all, not the best Shriver-novel, but worth a read nevertheless.
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Dystopian novel – based on a crisis for the American economy. After the US struggles to meet an auction of treasury bonds, a consortia of countries (lead by China and Russia but including many previous allies of America) announce the (apparently pre-planned) formation of a new global reserve currency – the bancor backed by a range of valuable commodities. The American president (their first Latino President) decides to declare a (doomed) economic war on the rest of the globe and announced drasti ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-readers
I was so pleased to have won a copy of 'The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 in a recent Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

This was a very enjoyable read, even though it took me a while to finish. It was the kind of book that I preferred to read when sitting in my library room alone, when family were not around. It is the first time that I have any of Lionel Shriver's books and will now be on the lookout for more. Recommended.

Ashley Daviau
At times this book was incredibly interesting and at other times it was excruciatingly boring. I’d honestly say it was about 50/50 and that definitely did make it a bit of a tough read to get through. But ultimately I do think it was worth it because the idea of the story is incredibly fascinating. Imagine if it were really to happen, the dollar suddenly being worthless and everyone has lost everything? How quickly everything would collapse? It’s quite a terrifying thought and that’s definitely ...more
Jul 28, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got up to page 332 which is more than this book deserves. It's very boring, and full of dull and stilted dialogue about finance. Just as it got interesting and some actual plot happened, the book leapt forward in time! The characters are a snooze too, and Shriver's 'slang' is lame (uncruel? boomerpoop? roachbar?). And there was a bunch of racism in there that I don't think can be justified. ...more
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant. The author writes with great wit and humor about a fictional family, the Mandibles, in the year 2029. I would describe this novel as semi-post-apocalyptic: the US is facing a crisis caused by the lack of faith in the very foundation of its financial system. The US government defaults on all its debt and orders all gold to be recalled, the dollar is essentially worthless and replaced by the 'bancor' as the globally preferred currency, and inflation grows so rampant that a he ...more
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing

I’ve long waited to read Lionel Shriver and the recent release of The Mandibles presented me the perfect opportunity to start working on her oeuvre. Having just finished reading it, I’m still gasping for my breath. It feels as though I’m back from a particularly arduous underwater expedition. But I’m “immense” glad I read it. If I were Willing or any other character from the book, I’d describe it as “Malicious”.

The Mandibles is stratospherically ingenious and a particularly heavy read. It
Doug Dosdall
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is an interesting read albeit with some problems. Unlike many of the reviewers I didn't object to the economic details per se but instead found the concept of a post-apocalyptic novel purely based on a crisis caused by loss of collective faith in the financial system fascinating. Humanity doesn't need zombies, an asteroid or a plague to fall apart, the ingredients are really already there. That said I found the core principles here a little off-putting, at times it seems like the autho ...more
Jun 28, 2016 rated it liked it
This book dragged. It got bogged down in tirades and treatises and pontification.

But what a concept! The US economy implodes. It is the poor cousin instead of the rich uncle. Economic order breaks down completely, and law and order soon follow, but only in the US.

The story follows members of a family waiting for the obscenely rich patriarch to die, and then all of a sudden the emperor has no clothes, or money, or assets. They adapt in different ways.
You won't read an economic diatribe or hear
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ms Shriver hasn't disappointed me yet and I was glued to this very scary book about the crash of the American economy. I don't think anyone could fail to see this as a real possibility. Dropped a point for the slightly lack lustre closing chapters but read it if you can. ...more
Book Riot Community
Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin) is back with a fantastic near-future novel about the effects of an economic collapse on four generations of a once-prosperous family. The Mandibles have always relied on the sizable family fortune, but when the U.S. engages in a bloodless war that wipes out the nation’s finances, they must scramble to make ends meet, igniting old rivalries and jealousies.
Backlist bump: The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all th
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-library
This was almost a five for me. I almost put it down early on because of the sheer volume of information used to set up this world and this family. I'm glad I didn't. I ended up loving the family and it's dynamics and her near future world was fascinating. ...more
Brown Girl Reading
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018-big-books
I think I would have liked this if it would have been minus all the financial detailed discussions. That part was boring and basically wound up putting me in a reading funk. I'm just glad it's over but so sad that this was my first Lionel Shriver. I probably should have just started with We Need to Talk About Kevin. Oh well. ...more
Sep 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Too much of an agenda to be a good novel.
Jan 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Ever get stuck at a cocktail party with that really smart person who became a fanatical Ayn Rand acolyte in college? Did it feel like she was hitting you over the head with the collected works of F.A. Hayek?

She wasn't interested in considering your opinion, either. She just wanted to convert you to The Truth That The World Is Too Feckless To Grasp! The Rank Foolishness Of Abandoning the Gold Standard! Taxation Is Oppression! Liberty Or Death!

And, of course, How Wicked Socialist Programs Such As
Charles Haywood
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’m a sucker for apocalyptic fiction. Probably, similar to many doom-and-gloom conservatives, deep down I see myself as bestriding the Apocalypse like a colossus, Bible in my left hand and short-barreled AR-15 in my right. Of course, intellectually I realize that actual apocalypses are very, very bad for everyone involved, so my self-image is buried deep in my id, not a goal I have set for myself. Moreover, my strong belief is that, while it may not be evident yet, the era of apocalyptic fiction ...more
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Lionel Shriver's novels include the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange Prize and has now sold over a million copies worldwide. Earlier books include Double Fault, A Perfectly Good Family, and Checker and the Derailleurs. Her novels have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her journalism h ...more

Articles featuring this book

Greed is good—and bad—in these picks from the author of the near-futuristic family saga The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047.
5 likes · 5 comments
“Plots set in the future are about what people fear in the present.” 10 likes
“Sure...the boy was precocious. But having been precocious himself, Lowell was never wowed by teenagers who could recite the periodic table of elements or whatever. He was on to them. Precocious was not the same as smart, much less the same as wise, and the perfect opposite of informed - since the more you prided yourself on knowing the less you listened and the less you learned. Worse, with application less glibly gifted peers often caught up with or overtook prodigies by early adulthood, and meanwhile the kid to whom everything came so effortlessly never mastered the grind of sheer hard work.” 6 likes
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