The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver
I was absolutely mad about this modern-day, black-humored GRAPES OF WRATH. It’s 10 or so years in the future, and the dollar implodes, leading to a nationwide economic collapse. We follow one family’s step-by-step decline into utter destitution, in the wider setting of New York City’s descent into lawlessness. But trust me, it was no dystopian downer; it was funny and riveting.
My five-star feelings only began to quaver after the portion set in the 2030’s ended, when we fast-forward into what I initially thought was, and then thought SHOULD have been, a brief coda, set another decade or so into the future. The action only sagged here, in basically one scene, where the characters who were the teenagers during the collapse are now disaffected young adults unable to hold my interest. As this portion of the book went on, I was grossly disappointed – ending with the 2030’s section was EXACTLY where it should have ended, I felt. BUT — she did pull off a good enough ending to make the too-long coda worthwhile. So I stick with 5 stars.