Brandy's Reviews > The Limit

The Limit by Kristen Landon
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's review
May 26, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, dystopian-post-apocalyptic, library, speculative-fiction, teen, boy-books, middle-grade
Read in May, 2011

Matt is flipping through a magazine near the check-outs when his mom gets the news: their family is over their limit. Humiliations aside, this is Bad News. By the time they've gotten home from the store, there's already a black limo outside, waiting to take 13-year-old Matt to the workhouse to earn the money his family needs to get them back under their government-mandated limit. Luckily, Matt gets assigned to the Top Floor, where the smartest kids have the most swank accommodations and most interesting work. The down side to being smart, though, is that Matt knows there's something up about the work that they're doing, and Matt is just the computer hacker to find out what.

Government intrudes on ordinary lives by imposing financial Limits on people and strictly enforcing those limits. Theoretically there are plans that can be worked out, four options people can take to get their budgets back under the Limit, but Matt's family is only given the Workhouse option. There's not much discussion of what sort of work Matt is doing or who it's for, or what happens in the normal workhouses. What we're left with is the shadowy, all-seeing, all-monitoring government that clearly has a purpose in mind for the workhouse kids, and a reason for keeping their parents in debt.

With the current economy being what it is, I can see this terrifying middle school readers (I'd put the interest around grades 7-10). The tone somehow reminds me of Margaret Peterson Haddix, with comparisons to ... hmm. Carbon Diaries for rationing/government monitoring of commodities, Rash for enforced employment to pay [economic/societal] debts, For the Win for computer time as business, The Sky Inside for similar tone in teen boy character.

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