172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
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.
I wasn't disappointed by 172 Hours on the Moon, but I wasn't stunned by it, either. It loses points because the entire first part of the book is relatively boring. There are creepy foreshadowing bits, and insight into the characters lives, but I felt kind of disconnected from them for most of the first part. I was also a little bit disappointed that the characters glide over the astronaut training, which would have added a bit more interest (and given a bit more insight into why they, specifically, were chosen).
172 Hours on the Moon more than redeemed itself in its second and third parts, though. Once the astronauts landed on the moon, I was completely engrossed in the book. The characters remained unimpressive and the romance was sloppy, but the plot itself was stellar. Growing unease turned to fear, and then to real terror as I read. My heart was pounding by the time I finished the book. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at the moon the same way again.
A few pictures and diagrams sprinkled in gave the book a freaky feeling of reality. And that's probably the best - and most frightening - part of this book: it's based on an actual radio signal received from God knows where. Not to say that it was in any way realistic. I'm not talking about the monsters when I say that, I'm talking about NASA sending teenagers - who are not American, which is odd since it's NASA - to space just to see if the moon's still as dangerous as it was the last time they were there. To be honest, that and the fairly disappointing characters bumped this book's rating down to three stars. But I picked up 172 Hours on the Moon because I wanted to be scared. On that end, it definitely delivered.
Despite a shaky beginning, 172 Hours on the Moon was everything I expected and more as a horror story. It's not really a sci-fi read; most of the technology dates back to the seventies. It's more of a horror story that happens to take place on the moon. I'm giving 172 Hours on the Moon the rating of three stars because while it's not the pinnacle of literary achievement, I was downright terrified by it.
Once Upon a Time...
As a longtime lover of stories and a believer in the power and magic of books, I've spent my life seeking out the best reads. This blog is dedicated to reviewing the books I read - good, bad, or magnificent - to help other readers find their next favorite books.