Book review – The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047

So this showed up in my mailbox a couple weeks ago:

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047

Short version: Worth the read.

Longer version:

Post-apocalyptic fiction is a tough nut to crack. You either go with guns and cannibals, like pretty much everything written since ‘Lucifers Hammer’ or you try to give a less ‘action movie’ apocalypse and deal more with day to day stuff like ‘Alas Babylon’. Some fiction tries to promote an agenda or belief, some just wants a body count. But regardless of the style of apocalypse, if it isn’t well-written no amount of gun-battles and zombies is going to make you want to make it to the final chapter.

“The Mandibles” goes for the ‘economic collapse’ flavor of apocalypse. The US defaults on it’s debts, becomes an economic pariah, and tries to inflate it’s way outta things. In the midst of this are several generations of the Mandible family who were counting on their family wealth but instead watch it vanish. The story covers several members who represent various mindsets and lifestyles…the practical, the pessimistic, the naive, the possibly sociopathic, the intelligentsia, and others.

What I found that made the story compelling was the fairly realistic, as I see it, representation of how daily life changes as the economy disintegrates. Our characters lose jobs, face empty supermarkets, inflated prices, evictions, robberies, medical emergencies, and eventually totalitarian government, all through the course of the book.

Although I disliked the last couple chapters of the book, which seemed to turn a gritty somewhat-reality-based economic collapse into a L. Neil Smith libertarian fantasy, I really enjoyed the book in general. I’ve always said that the hallmark of good fiction is if it makes you think about things in ways that you might not have otherwise. In this case, after reading though the book in one sitting, I found myself inventorying my precious metals stash and resolving to make some future purchases. Yes, I’m that susceptible to things I read.

Gunplay? Virtually none. Cannibal army? None. But was it compelling reading? Absolutely. Only one character in the book seemed to have any grasp of the severity of the situation and the implications for the future. I found myself eagerly waiting for the parts where he would respond to the situations without the normalcy bias everyone else seemed to have.

My impression: good book, enjoyable read, not for the person who wants all-action-all-the-time, but definitely good for someone who wants to imagine a ‘wargame’ of riding out the dollars collapse in a big city.

11 thoughts on “Book review – The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047

      • Yup, those two are the classic SHTF books. I was just recommended “Life As We Knew It” by Susan Pfeffer. The short description – a meteor strikes the moon and moving it, creates world wide havoc. The format described were diary entries written by a teenage girl. Sounded pretty good to me so I purchased it.

        One Second After is also really good. It gave me a lot of ‘Damn – I never thought of that’ thoughts.

    • CZ put it very well: a lot comes down to whether you’re looking for a more literary interpretation on the genre, or if you just want gun play and zombie cannibals (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

      For a more literary approach, “Alas Babylon is a classic.” I’d also personally recommend “Station Eleven” and “The Road.” “The Mandibles” is also very worthwhile.

      If you like “Lucifer’s Hammer,” you may also enjoy “One Second After.”

      • Oh, and two more: “The Stand” by Steven King is pretty decent too, though I wouldn’t call it survivalist fiction so much as post-apocalyptic; and “World Made By Hand” and it’s sequels.

    • For really good post-apocolypse fiction you could do FAR worse than the following three authors:
      Bruce “Buckshot” Hemming,
      Franklin Horton and of course
      James Wesley Rawles.
      Each has written enough books on the subject to keep you going for quite a while!
      God bless…

  1. I’d be happy to add it to the ‘read’ pile, but not at that price.
    I’m deeply spoiled by Kindle unlimited, and spend $10 a month to read about a dozen books a month. When the hardcover price (with prime shipping) and the Kindle price vary by only a dollar or two…. I shy off.

    No…. these days my reading price point is $0 to $5 on Kindle, or whatever I like at the used book racks. I’m past the point of paying more than that. Even a $4.99 Kindle makes me flinch. When the physical library is over 500 volumes, and the e-book library is way over 1000 items….. it adds up.

  2. Commander has a list of Kindle books I have to loan out if anyone is interested. Most of what I have is a one time only loan, thus, may not be available, and most of those are for 14 days. Quite a number of good ones and others not so great. Like Art, my price point is about the same and luckily so due the amount on my list.

  3. The Perseid Collapse, by Steven Konkoly is a decent series. Interesting premise of a dual/simultaneous disaster. Piling on, in a manner of speaking.

  4. Hwy CZ, Im a few chapters in and it takes place in Brooklyn. Nice to hear old streets and neighborhoods. Didn’t you used to be from there? Enjoying the book so far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.