THE LIMIT by Kristen Landon
Released: September 2010
Review Format: Hardcover from UK Book Tours (thanks Lynsey)
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.
The Limit is Kristen Landon’s first middle grade novel and what a great job of it she did too! The very first paragraph in this book grabbed me and I knew I was going to love it! Whilst the first three chapters could have been about any local kid living an ordinary life with his family, I soon realised from odd little whispered comments on ‘the limit’ that things wouldn’t stay that way for long.
Matt is 13 years old and a genius at math. His character is well developed and I felt at ease with him. I loved him like an aunt, got annoyed with him when he did stupid things and wanted to praise him when he did well. I liked that although he was extremely bright, he was also just a normal kid, doing normal things like playing basketball with his mates after school and going grocery shopping with his mum. The nicknames Matt gave other characters in the book made me giggle. Throughout the whole story we know one of the main adult characters as ‘Honey Lady’ because she pretends to be so sicky sweet and then there’s Crab Woman, an older lady with a crabby attitude. There were a few others that I can’t remember off the top of my head, but they definitely added a bit more fun and ’13 year old humour’ to the story.
In The Limit each family has a financial debt limit and if they go over that the government removes the family children and puts them into workhouses so they can earn money to pay back their family’s debts. That’s what happened in Matt’s case on one particularly fateful grocery shopping trip. His parents were so self-obsessed and greedy that they didn’t even bother to keep tabs on what they were spending and I really had some nasty thoughts on what I’d like to do to them both. How dare they be so irresponsible as to put their son in that position? I really wanted to give them a good shake and I know Matt did too.
At 291 pages, this is quite a short book and only took me (a slow reader) two evenings to finish. That could also be because I just couldn’t put The Limit down. All day at work I was thinking about it and desperately wanted to get home to finish it off. I really needed to know that badly what was going on and if Matt and his friends were going to be ok. The fast pace of the plot carries you right through to the last page and is wrapped up well with no cliff hangers.
I would definitely recommend this middle grade dystopian thriller to everyone - middle graders through to adults. The lively fast pace will keep you entertained and engaged.
My rating: 4 stars