PUBLISHER: Atom Books
RELEASE DATE: 5th April 2012
FORMAT: Paperback, 368 pages
GENRE: Science-Fiction, Young Adult
It’s been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA’s unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space–and change their lives forever. Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band’s ticket to fame and fortune. Midori believes it’s her way out of her restrained life in Japan. Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.
It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space… no one is coming to save them. In this chilling adventure set in the most brutal landscape known to man, highly acclaimed Norwegian novelist Johan Harstad creates a vivid and frightening world of possibilities we can only hope never come true. (Goodreads)
172 HOURS ON THE MOON is a novel narrated in the third person and is set in the future of 2019. As the novel is told from different view points, you are able to follow the main protagonists giving glimpses of each character and their personality.
NASA’s funds, and people’s interest, in space exploration is dwindling, and so they decide to fund another moon landing by holding a lottery to win a trip to the moon for three lucky teenagers. Reality TV is immensely popular and has huge money making potential, which NASA hope to capitalize on to support their next moon mission.
As 172 HOURS ON THE MOON progresses you can feel that NASA is hiding information relating to their reasons as to why they wish to return to the moon and why moon landings had ceased. This element of the unknown helps to create an atmosphere that keeps you guessing as to what may be hiding out on the moon.
The three lucky teenage winners are Mia, Anotoine and Midori.
Mia is a sixteen year old girl from Norway and has overbearing parents who enter Mia into the moon lottery thinking that she would regret a missed opportunity, as Mia has no intention of entering. Mia loves music, and dreams of playing in a famous punk band. Mia is persuaded to go by her friends, to enhance their bands chances of making it big.
Antoine, a heartbroken seventeen year old French boy, needs a way to escape his obsession with his ex-girlfriend, Simone. Antoine enters the competition in the hope that if he wins he will be able to get as far away from Simone as possible.
Midori is a sixteen year old Japanese girl who insists on not following the crowd and wants more from her life than being the expected dutiful Japanese wife. Midori’s dream is to one day live in New York, and hopes that if she is picked to go to the moon, it make that dream a reality.
The three winning teenagers are wanting to get away from something in their lives, be it parents, an ex or a lifestyle, and a trip to the moon offers each person the opportunity to get what they think they want. The trouble is, most things never turn out as good as you expect, and 172 HOURS ON THE MOON teaches a valuable lesson in that the grass isn’t always greener.
There are a few other characters mentioned to help create an alarming situation, mainly an elderly man, Mr Himmelfarb, that has lost his mind and is living in a care home. As the story develops it becomes evident that Mr Himmelfarb used to work for NASA and knows something sinister to do with past moon landings and that his mind is trying to protect him from the memories.
The flight and moon landing takes place without incident and you begin to feel how desolate the moon would be.
Mia could see the surface very clearly now, and she thought she’d never seen anything so lifeless. Everything was just grey. Gray, grey ash, absolutely no sign of life.
I was disappointed that the majority of the book was based on earth before getting to the moon, and the frightening exploration on the moon was rushed and over with too soon. When the story eventually takes place on the moon, 172 HOURS ON THE MOON is more exciting as it’s a race against time as power fails, oxygen supplies dwindle and something evil is trying to prevent their return home.
Johan Hastrad creates a believable plot using actual astronauts and events then adding his own fictional twist, which is interesting. However, due to the third person narrative you never get a full insight into the personalities of the three main teenage protagonists. It is the lack of an emotional connection to the characters that reduced my enjoyment.
I may be a little harsh with my rating as the writing style and plot flowed easily making 172 HOURS ON THE MOON a simple read. However, it just wasn’t my type of book. I kept waiting to feel the tense, scared, heart pounding moment that you expect from a horror/sci-fi, which never came, and I was never fully absorbed with the characters, giving me very little emotional connection to 172 HOURS ON THE MOON as a whole.
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