Title: The Limit
Author: Kristen Landon
Concepts: Debt, child schooling and work, budget constraints, profits, wages, rent, incentives, economic role of government
Review: In Matt Dunston's futuristic world, the government had tight control over the country's economic and social structure. It institutionalized senior citizens deemed as unfit and expropriated all their assets, it closely monitored the income and expenditures of every household through an extensive computerized system, and it established a Federal Debt Ordinance in which children of a certain age were forced to work in a workhouse to help reduce their family's debt.
Just thirteen and living comfortably, Matt did not pay much attention to this ordinance until his parents went over their spending limit and a debt rehabilitation agent took him away. Adding to his shock, Matt felt confused and alone. His cell phone did not work, his emails to family and friends went unanswered, and he could not leave the top floor of the building where he worked and lived. The arrangements seemed increasingly suspicious, especially when he noticed an unusual number of children complaining of severe headaches and even seizures. Little did Matt foresee the amount of ingenuity and courage it would take to try to uncover the hidden truths behind the workhouse in which he was confined.
Suspenseful and clever, this novel paints an unsettling picture of a future in which cash-less transactions increase the temptation of excess spending and children pay the price of their parents' indulgences. While lessons of budget constraints, child labor, and corporate profiteering abound, readers will get a good dose of intrigue and adventure along the way to make these lessons palatable and interesting.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children