Monday, January 06, 2014

The Limit Review by Kristen Landon

The Limit Review
Title: The Limit
Author: Kristen Landon
Hardcover, 304 pages
First published August 13th 2010

Awards Received
2012 Utah Book Award Finalist
2012-2013 Georgia Children’s Book Award Nominee
2012-2013 Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Program Nominee
2013 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Honor


Back in 2008, I had a friend ask me what type of books I read and I told him I read dystopian novels.  He had never heard the term before and I had to explain what dystopia meant.  Now six years later, the term is everywhere.   When many readers and nonreaders hear the term, their minds automatically go to books like “The Hunger Games” or “Divergent”.  Lately, dystopian novels (especially popular YA Dystopian novels) seem to be trilogies with a strong female lead.  As much as I love a strong leading lady, I want YA readers to be aware that there are more out there than Katniss and Tris, and that there are still stand alone novels being written.

The Limit is a dystopian stand-alone novel whose main character is a 12 year old boy named Matt.  Matt is like many other boys in neighborhood, he is respectful to his parents, is annoyed by his little two sisters, and enjoys playing basketball with his two best friends.  There is one thing special about Matt—he is very, VERY good at math and computer hacking in fact it doesn’t even feel like work to him.  At first Matt’s world seems just like ours, but the government is more controlling.  Each family is given a spending limit that cannot be passed.  If a family spends more money than they are allotted there are dire consequences.  The oldest child is spent to a work house to help his or her family get back under the limit.

When Matt’s family goes over their limit he is shipped off to a workhouse. He realizes that the rumors about a sweatshopisk workshop are not true.  In fact the workhouse seems like paradise for Matt and his peers on the top floor, but soon Matt realizes there is trouble in paradise.  

I had thought about reading this book several months ago because it was on the list of nominations for the Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice.  Then in November I attended the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge where the author accepted the LYRC honor award.  There I got to listen to the author discuss her book, and even got speak to her after the presentation.   Kristen Landon said that she was inspired by a phrase she heard on the radio, “Parents are mortgaging their children’s futures”.  With this in mind Landon slowly built the story of Matt and the workhouse.

I really enjoyed the book; it was refreshing to read a book without any sort of romance or a love triangle, supernatural powers, or teens killing each other.  I like how similar Matt’s reality is to our own, which make the book and Matt very easy to relate to. The ending was slightly farfetched but overall I enjoyed the pacing, characters, and Matt’s internal dialogue—he nicknames people in his head like I do.  If you enjoy Margaret Peterson Haddix, I think you’ll like this book too.

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