The Limit by Kristen Landon

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Title: The Limit

Author: Kristen Landon

Published By: Aladdin (2010)

Synopsis: 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. (Taken from Goodreads)


This book was very well done. Plotted and described in a way that reminded me of The Girl Who Could Fly, The Limit is set in a futuristic world where families who cannot keep under their debt “limit” are forced to send their children off to workhouses to work the debt  off. Our main character, Matt, has never truly worried about the limit; his family manages money well—or so he believes. When his family suddenly finds themselves over the limit one fateful day, Matt finds himself being sent off to one of the workhouses without so much as a goodbye. He dreads it and just knows it’s going to be torture, and fears he will never get out once he arrives.

It had a pretty good plotline; at any rate, it was interesting enough to keep me reading. The writing was acceptable, with longer sentences and better word choices. The descriptions were decent, and Matt was a good main character, working for the sake of his family and friends rather than for himself. His love for his sisters was well expressed, as well, and yet he still felt like a realistic teenage boy.


However, there were aspects of the plot I found very unbelievable and fell a bit flat. For example, in one scene, Matt decides to run away. And despite all the security the author has gone into detail explaining over and over how strong it is, Matt still defies the odds and gets away. And not even that. He makes it all the way back to the city—walking, even though it took two hours to drive there—and even gets back to his house. I thought the security was super tight? I thought the people in charge were super smart? How was it even possible Matt made it that far?

And then, when he gets back to his house, he walks in, sees his little sister and says, “Hi, Abbie,” before going upstairs. No tiredness? No fatigue? No emotional aspect of “I can’t believe I’m home”? Nope. Then he goes to his mom and she barely notices he’s there, only is worried about money and new businesses. And then Matt blows up at her for not being careful enough with money, careless enough that he and his little sister were both taken. (That part, at least, was understandable.)

Then, of course, there’s a knock and it’s the security. Finally. On top of it all, he willingly goes back to the school. This was the one part of the story that didn’t make any sense whatsoever. Seriously—I know the security is going to come after him and make him come back, but first of all, they wouldn’t catch him the next morning. It would be minutes later, from the way the security is described in the book. Secondly, he wouldn’t go all the way out there just to tell his parents Lauren was sick, then willingly go back! The impression that came off as a result was the school was some kind of place one could easily leave at any time and then come back, when it was supposedly the other way around.


The one other thing was: while the workhouses before he arrives are described as some kind of horror place, once he gets there it seems more like a fun school. He’s supposedly there to do “work” that will help pay off his family’s debt, but I’m still in the dark on exactly what this “work” was. All that’s said was that he worked all day at a computer at online school classes, then created intricate new designs for popular companies. If this were any other genre, I’d say that it seems incredibly unrealistic that they’d make the “work” for thirteen-year-olds  creating new hit designs and animations for companies, but then again, this IS a dystopia where teens seem to be very experienced with computers. I do wish there had been more detail on the work, though. The only impression I got was that it was fun. As well, despite the word “workhouse”, scenes where the characters openly admit they’d like to live there forever are constant. Even Matt wonders if he’d like to stay there and never go home. After all, it seems to him like a perfect paradise.

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Other than those few things, though, the book was very well done and I enjoyed it. Like I’ve said, it reminded me much of The Girl Who Could Fly, and that put a positive spin on my reading. Though it definitely isn’t the best book out there, this dystopian story was a fast-paced, intriguing, and a somewhat well-written read. I wouldn’t consider it a favorite, but I’ll probably be re-reading it sometime in the future.

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0

Recommended to: Anyone looking for a clean dystopian.


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