Even though I am giving this book a high rating, I want to warn everyone that it may not be palatable in light of the recent election. I actually started reading it in late November, but was still too traumatized by Trump’s winning the Presidency that I had to set it aside after a few chapters. Sometimes I’m in the mood for dystopian fiction, but I usually prefer authors who write about plausible futures, not vampire or alien invasion futures. (Stephen King’s The Stand being a notable exception.) The Mandibles, however, is almost too plausible for comfort.
The Mandibles gives an account of several members of the Mandible family in the year 2029 who are waiting, some more patiently than others, for the family patriarch (referred to as Grand Man or Great Grand Man) to die off so they can inherit their share of his (perhaps?) sizeable fortune. Unfortunately, before he can conveniently die, the United States dollar and the economy completely collapse, and he and the rest and the rest of the family are left penniless.
The book gives a too-realistic view of how many Americans base their self-worth on their net worth. A tenured Georgetown University economics professor can’t give up his treasured belief that since, in his esteemed opinion the collapse shouldn’t have happened, that it actually did, even as his more practical wife is fighting tooth-and-nail to keep their treasured, updated-with-all-the modern-conveniences, DC townhouse. A writer who had one best-selling book several decades ago is determined to hang on to all her original manuscripts so they can be donated to a university library, even though by this point no one can afford the luxury of e-books, let alone printed books.
The ending was a little disappointing, but the book is definitely worth a read, especially if you want a “how-to-survive-the-near-future” tutorial. Also, it is very different from Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, both in style and subject matter. I read that book years ago, and it has still stayed with me. This book is memorable, but didn’t make the indelible imprint on my psyche as We Need to Talk About Kevin did.