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A Reader of Fictions: Where Do the Children Play? - Cat Stevens

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Where Do the Children Play? - Cat Stevens

The Limit

Kristen Landon
Genre: young adult/children's, adventure
Pages: 291
Publisher: Aladdin

Brief Summary:
In Landon's version of America's future, the government has created an agency to deal with the rampant debt: the FDRA (Federal Debt Rehabilitation Agency). The FDRA offers four options to anyone who goes over their credit limit. Matt, 13-years-old, is shocked when his family goes over the limit at the grocery store. He is even more upset when the FDRA comes for him; FDO 169 Option D has been selected for his family. This means that Matt has to go to a workhouse and work off his family's debt. Luckily for Matt, he's super intelligent, which means he gets to live on the plush top floor. Everything wouldn't be so bad, except that his email won't work, so he can't communicate with his parents or sisters. Curious about what's happening, Matt hacks into the computer system and finds some worrying information.

I picked up this book because I thought it was a dystopia. But it's not really. I definitely have some reservations about this society's systems, but they definitely don't qualify as dystopia levels of horror. The only worrying aspect mentioned besides the workhouses for kids (who get younger and younger as the novel progresses) was that old people, when unable to care for themselves anymore, are forced in to homes. When this happens, all of their stuff, except for a few trinkets to serve as memorabilia, is sold off to pay for the costs of the old folk's home, which I'm sure is super nice.

I do wonder what happens when single people or married individuals without progeny go over their limit. They can't send a kid, so I guess they use the other three options, but that seems sort of uneven and unfair. For the most part though, the future seems pretty believable, although child labor laws might prevent it. Maybe not though, since the kids only work a couple hours each day, spending the rest of the work day on school work. The children at the workhouses actually get a better education than those in the schools, because they have personal tutoring tailored to their abilities.

As mentioned above, this is not a dystopia really. More of an adventure/thriller for children. I almost expected the story to end with "It would have worked, if it weren't for you meddling kids," accompanied by a fist shake. Landon's book is engaging and presents and interesting futuristic America, but definitely aimed at older children/younger teens.

"Well I think it's fine, building jumbo planes.
Or taking a ride on a cosmic train.
Switch on summer from a slot machine.
Yes, get what you want to if you want, 'cause you can get anything.

I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?"

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