What is your limit? : Student Book Review

limitThe Limit by Kristen Landon is a thrilling and captivating novel; one of the best books I have read in a long time.  The Limit is a near-future dystopian novel involving a government that lies to and manipulates the public for the government’s benefit.  The lead protagonist is a 13 year old math genius, Matt, whose parents exceeded the government imposed spending “limit.” Matt is sent to a workhouse where his work will supposedly pay off his family’s debt.

While the government in The Limit would allow ordinary citizens to work off their debt, they created a special program for child prodigies like Matt designed to exploit their genius for the benefit of the government by ironically increasing the worker’s debt.  The top floor was an exceptionally nice area of the workhouse where the residents got further into debt due to their special amenities.  Unfortunately, the top floor residents were unaware that they were being secretly charged for their superior surroundings.  Ultimately, Matt and three other residences of the top floor break every workhouse rule to reveal the corrupt and outrageous abuses of the workhouse.  They copy secret government files onto a flash drive and arrange for a typical workhouse resident who had worked off her debt to deliver the flash drive to a newspaper.

Matt and his cohorts’ efforts to expose the true activities of the workhouse are almost defeated when the managers hold Matt and company as silent hostages in the basement at gunpoint ,wipe clean all evidence of the workhouse’s actual activities.  The workhouse officials efforts to destroy any evidence of their true activities were so effective that the S.W.A.T. team, which shows up to investigate the newspaper articles, are almost convinced that the newspaper article was a prank.  Matt and his friends overpower their armed guard just in time to convince the S.W.A.T. team of the truthfulness of the newspaper article and the illegal activities of the workhouse by revealing secret government files.

The basic theme of The Limit is that government power ultimately corrupts those in charge and that individuals must, at great personal risk, reveal these practices to correct them.  Although The Limit was written in 2010, it foreshadowed the recent events when Edward Snowden, an NSA subcontractor, violated law and his security clearance to reveal that the U.S. Government was illegally spying on not just terrorists, but normal American citizens and its allies as well.  Edward Snowden has ultimately escaped to Russia where he is currently planning to hide out for the rest of his life with the Russian government’s protection.  Whether one regards Snowden as a criminal or a patriot, it is undeniable that in response to common outrage, the NSA is changing its snooping ways.  How long will it be until power corrupts them again?  Who will be the next Matt?

Books like The Limit reminds everyday citizens how tempting it is for a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” to turn against the people. It leaves the reader questioning what risks they would take to fix a corrupted government?

– David Seidl, grade 7

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