Friday, January 7, 2011

The Limit by Kristen Landon

The Limit by Kirsten Landon
"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 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."
(summary from Author's website)

I was immediately intrigued by the concept of this novel. The idea of people coming and snatching children away to pay off their family’s debt when they went over the limit was a very compelling hook. The author does a very good job a conveying the conventions of society in her world and introducing the main character, Matt.

Matt is super smart, unusually smart and the author does a really good job at portraying how smart he is without making him seem unrealistic or unsympathetic. When Matt gets taken away from his family after they go over the limit during a trip to the grocery store I as a reader felt as desperate as he did for him to get back to his family.

At the workhouse it seems that some of the action in the book slows down a bit after Matt gets sorted onto his floor. The workhouses are actually designed to be quite humane and comfortable for the kids. They do work assignments, get paid, meet new friends, and some of them even forget a bit about getting back to their family. Sure, Matt misses his family at first, but then he sort of gets used to living the luxurious life on the “top floor.” It was kind of hard for me to keep reading the novel after the initial conflict of him being taken from his family weakens, but the author has a few twists and turns in the plot, and soon Matt is working with his friends to save children on the lower floors from the director’s illegal experiments.

While I thought The Limit was well-written novel with an interesting concept at the end I felt like the novel was lacking for me. I was expecting the book to have a few more action scenes, and a little less down time. All the loose ends of the plot were nicely tied off, but the ending wasn’t as big as I expected it. It becomes obvious that the corruption of the director was localized to Matt’s workhouse. That at the end the society in the book would continue to function as it always had before, and there would be no huge overall change. I suppose that took me off guard because I expected the plot to go in the character v.s government plot line that is so typical of this type of book these days.

Alas, my expectations for the book led for me to feel let down at the end of the novel, but it really is a decent little novel. I would recommend it to those who like the dystopian sci-fi genre as a quick, stand-alone read.

Kristen Landon's Website

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