Title: The Limit
Author: Kristen Landon
May Contain Spoilers
An eighth grade girl was taken today . . .
With this first sentence, readers are immediately thrust into a fast-paced thriller that doesn’t let up for a moment. In a world not too far removed from our own, kids are being taken away to special workhouses if their families exceed the monthly debt limit imposed by the government. Thirteen-year-old Matt briefly wonders if he might be next, but quickly dismisses the thought. After all, his parents are financially responsible, unlike the parents of those other kids. As long as his parents remain within their limit, the government will be satisfied and leave them alone. But all it takes is one fatal visit to the store to push Matt’s family over their limit—and to change his reality forever.
Now this is a timely book, and it’s one that I don’t see getting much buzz. I wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t one of those Amazon suggestions that they email out about once a week. When I read the synopsis, it sounded like something I would like, so I was tickled when I received a review copy. The book did not disappoint, and though some of the characters were one-dimensional, I found the story very compelling.
A trip to the grocery store changes Matt’s life forever. His family has never worried about money, or about going over the government limit set on their bank account. When a shopping cart full of food and other merchandise puts them over the top, it’s Matt who has to pay the price. In his reality, kids are detained by the Federal Debt Rehabilitation Agency to pay off the family debt. Thanks to the Federal Debt Ordinance, kids are now expected to bear the burden of paying down the financial obligations of their parents. Think of the implications of that law if your parents didn’t want to be stuck raising you, and all they cared about was stuff – cars, appliances, vacations at five star resorts. You would be the one footing the bill for their fiscal indiscretions!
Quicker than Matt can blink, he gets dragged off to a workhouse, where he is stuck until he turns 18, his wages going to the family debt. Matt is one of the lucky ones whose test results earn him a room on the top floor. Only the brightest and the best are allowed to work up there, and he is suddenly living the life of luxury, tackling homework in the morning and complex job tasks in the afternoon. He finds all of his work engrossing and stimulating, and though he misses home, things aren’t all that bad. Well, at least not until he hacks into the facility’s computers and learns a little more than he is supposed to know about the program, his wages, and what is really going on at the workhouse.
I enjoyed The Limit, and liked Matt a lot. He’s a smart kid who wants to do what’s right for his family, but he wants them to do what’s right for him, too. There are painful lessons to be learned, about conspicuous consumption and financial responsibility. I got so caught up in the story that I didn’t want to put the book down; I needed to know what happened next! With the current economic landscape that we all face, the plot seems very plausible, and that made it even more compelling.
Review copy provided by the publisher