Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Limit



This is the final cover
art.  Advance Review
Copies differ.
Landon, Kristen. 2010. The Limit. New York: Aladdin.
(Advance Reader Copy)

from The Limit

...I heard a sharp gasp from Mom’s checkout worker.  My eyes shot up.  Checkout Lady had her hand over her mouth.  Mom seemed unflustered.  Checkout Lady must have made a mistake.  I kept reading. ... The usual noise and confusion of the megastore around me dimmed.  It was like it faded to almost nothing, leaving only the voices of my mom and Checkout Lady  Even Abbie put a lid on her usual nonstop chatter and stuck her thumb in her mouth.  I thought she’d stopped sucking her thumb a long time ago. 
   “I’m sure it’s a mistake,” Mom said.  “A computer glitch somewhere.”
    Checkout Lady punched a few buttons on her computer while her front teeth gnawed her lower lip like a beaver working a tree.  “I’m sorry.   It’s not a mistake. You’re over your limit.”
   An electric current zapped through me.  No. Wait. Stuff like this didn’t happen to our family.

But 13-year-old Matt was mistaken.  It did happen to his family, and now he was the one chosen by the Federal Debt Rehabilitation Agency (FDRA) to repay his family’s debt under Federal Debt Ordinance 169, Option D which decrees compulsory service in an FDRA workhouse.  Whisked away from his family by a burly guard and smooth-talking, Miss Smoot, Matt is taken to a workhouse without so much as a change of clothes.  Likely based on his above average intelligence, Matt is designated a “Top Floor,” and receives a challenging job, a rigorous school curriculum, and plush accommodations.  Unable to contact the outside world, he learns to live with his fellow “top floors,” Coop, Jeffrey, Isaac, Paige, Neela, Kia, Madeline, and the unseen and mysterious Reginald.  At first glance, all appears in order at the workhouse, but Matt and his friends begin to discover something more threatening than unpaid debts at the Midwest Federal  Debt Rehabilitation Agency workhouse.

Matt narrates this thriller about a high-tech society in which the government assigns every family a spending limit based on its income - not just any limit - the limit, the limit that cannot be exceeded without the direst of consequences. Eye scans and Big Brother-style monitoring are commonplace in this society that readers will find much like our own, where advertising and consumerism reign supreme. Although The Limit’s premise is the consequence of negligent overspending, the heart of the story is the high-tech, cat-and-mouse game between the brilliant “top floors” and the outwardly beautiful but sinister Miss Smoot, as Matt and his fellow inmates make increasingly shocking revelations as they attempt to discover the story of the other workhouse floor assignments and the headaches plaguing some inhabitants. Cautionary, but not didactic, The Limit is sure to hit a nerve with readers old enough to understand even the most basic aspects of family finances. The financially illiterate have even greater reason to read The Limit. Highly recommended.

Ms. Landon’s site offers Lesson Plans and other resources for educators.

On shelves in September.

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