Landon, Kristen. The Limit. New York: Aladdin, 2010.

Similar Books: Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix; THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner

In a world not too far removed from our own, kids are being taken away to special workhouse if their families exceed the financial 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 responsible with their spending, right?
But after Matt’s family unexpectedly goes over their limit, Matt is whisked away to a workhouse where far more serious dangers exist than anyone on the outside realizes–dangers that could change his reality forever.


“Matthew, you are the oldest child of William and Rebecca Dunston, correct?

“He is,” said Mom. “But if you’ll wait a few minutes . . .”

Ignoring her, Honey Lady continued to direct her words toward me. “In light of the fact that your family unit has exceeded its debt limit and that option D of the Federal Debt Ordinance 169 has been chosen for your rehabilitation, I must verify your identity and age . . . Now, Matthew, if you will please hold still.” She smiled so sweetly I allowed her to take an eye scan as well as a handprint scan with a handheld unit. “Thirteen years old, correct?”

“Uh . . . yeah. . .”

“We’ll be leaving now,” Honey Lady said to Mom.

“Wait. Please. My husband will be here any second.”

“There is nothing he can say or do that will change anything,” said Honey Lady. “I’m sorry, but I do have a schedule. Come along, Matthew.”

The Review

With upsurge in dystopias, this is a great book for the middle grade market. While I found the first few chapters a little hard to get into, this book had my full attention once Matt was taken to the workhouse. The plot was fast-paced with great insights along the way, and a few twists and turns at the end. I absolutely adored the ingenuity shown by the main character and his friends to discover the truth, and then what they do when after that.

This book was a great reflection on the American consumerism, and kept me thinking. I ran to the store when I was in the middle of this book and had the thought: do I really need all this stuff? My biggest issue coming away from the book was: how could the U.S. Government and the people allow for such a thing to happen? To me, Kristen Landon’s world had become so real, I started having real concerns about what led the society to behave in such a way that children had to pay for their parent’s mistakes. I know that has been something that has happened in the past, but to me that is such a degression from our current state that it made such a perfect dystopian setting.

Suggested Reader Age: 9-12
Behind the scenes information on child labor camps.
Check out the author’s website to see the book trailer!

3 thoughts on “book review: The Limit by Kristen Landon

  1. I really enjoy well-written middle grade. Some of the dystopias I’ve read for that age just fall flat, but this sounds more rounded out. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I’ve had this on my list since you mentioned it at group a few weeks back. Sounds like a good one!

  3. I am loving this premise. Countering a recession by returning to the Victorian model of a workhouse? Too awesome for words. I don’t usually read MG but this I gotta see.
    – Sophia.

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