“The Mandibles” Novel on near-term economic upheaval

I came across an interesting novel the other day and thought it would be a great catalyst for discussion here. Called “The Mandibles”, by Lionel Shriver, it portrays an extended family dealing with the slow degradation of society after a consortium of nations band together to create a new standard currency to unseat the dollar, and the US defaults on its debt in retaliation/response. It’s not Nobel-level writing (and a mix of realism with a smattering of satire), but it’s well researched and, especially, quite plausible in the long downward spiral of events it portrays. There’s a review here that gives you a little more sense of the story:


I enjoyed reading it and found the projected not-so-far-off future quite plausible, as well as containing many details about possible outcomes that I’d not considered but certainly will now (more on that in comments later after I kick this thread off). It’s not about the death of civilization, but rather how people (and governments) continue to survive, though in some pretty miserable circumstances.

I think what the author proposes is probably more likely than the apocryphal scenarios some preppers focus on (though even she makes references to a hacker attack that took down the grid and internet prior to the story in this novel, and that sets up some of the societal and economic changes that exist as the novel begins; also one character is a a more recognizable type of prepper who, long before the events of the novel, bought land and pursued a self-sufficient life for reasons often discussed in these forums).

Anyway, great food for thought and for expanding thinking on what being prepared actually means, as well as on how sustainable those preps are in a longer-term societal shift.

Has anyone else here read this? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, and encourage anyone else who is curious to check it out as well.


  • Comments (3)

    • 2

      Based on your post, I looked into it — it looks very promising. I bought the Audible version and I’ll let you know in a week or so what I think. 

      • 2

        Cool – I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

    • 2

      Ok. I finished the book (audio version) last week. I really enjoyed it.

      The premise of an economic meltdown is valid and easily foreseeable. The author uses “informative fiction” to teach the reader throughout the story about the economy, the weak points of it, why things failed, and why we should have seen it coming. She further develops many of the unforeseen circumstances that could come from a failed dollar and subsequent failed economy. I learned a lot through conversations of the wealthy great grandfather (patriarch) and the 14 y/o almost savantic younger family member.

      The book concludes with a somewhat lazy happily ever after as the family migrates to the Free State of Nevada, a NON-utopia / pseudo libertarian world with all it’s predictable, almost cliched, struggles. 

      The writing isn’t amazing, but there’s some good drama, dark parts, things that really make you think, insights into the non-prepared urban/NYC dwellers (especially the more well off ones), genuine humor, and her world building of a collapsing world is consistent and believable. 

      I’ve ordered 3 copies to give to friends. There are only so many post-apocalyptic/collapse books about zombies, EMPs, or pandemics—with people struggling to get from one place to another—that you can read before they all start to sound the same. This one definitely doesn’t sound the same and it really made me think. 

      I’d give the book a 4/5 overall. But to a prepper audience that is striving to be mentally/emotionally prepared and to think outside the box I’d call this a must read.