172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

Sleepy Waffles

Why I Read It: I liked the cover.

Where I Got It: I won it in a giveaway (thank you I Am A Reader Not A Writer)

Who I Recommend This To: Hmm… Not sure I can recommend this one.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (2012)

Length: 351 pages

While the cover sucked me in, the premise made me question my judgement a little: NASA decides to boost their popularity by holding a lottery to send 3 teens into space and onto the moon for the next mission, which will also allow the real astronauts to do some super secret work on the super secret moon base.

Yeah. But, hey, I am good at suspending my disbelief for a good story. I just need some character depth, a decent plot, and perhaps a sprinkling of funny, suspenseful, or heart-warming moments. While this book had a few heart-warming moments, it lacked all the rest. I truly felt like I was reading an early draft instead of a finished project. Johan Harstad won the 2008 Norwegian Brage Award for this book, so I had to consider if perhaps the inconsistencies in plot were due to a faulty translation here and there, but after due consideration, I do not belief this to be the case.

The 3 teens selected for this ride of a lifetime come from different countries and are all put into astronaut training for 3 months in Houston, Texas. Turn the page, and all training is complete and the teens are off to Florida for a day or two before the launch. This book is set a few years into the future (2019) and this was an excellent opportunity for the author to give the reader some Fancy Tech moments, or even some funny crew bounding moments in the Vomit Comet. But no, we get the teens complaining about all the studying they will have to do for a page and a half.

So, we finally launch and we got like 5 days en route to the moon. Surely there will be Fancy Tech moments and embarrassing, yet hilarious moments with food in zero G. But no, the crew makes it to the moon and there are references from the teens about how they still aren’t sure which astronaut is talking or such. these guys spent 3 months working together as a crew in training and then 5 days in extremely close quarters, and the teens still don’t know who all the astronauts are? Hmmm…..

The author did try to build up the suspense by having each teen receive more than one oblique warning to not go the moon because SOMETHING BAD will happen. And something bad did happen on the moon. But the source of the warnings was never explained, which left me feeling like the ending was not polished to a point of finality.

I read this book, in part, because I am trying to expand my horizons and one genre I haven’t read much of is Young Adult. While this book captured that the teens felt that no adult understood them and all that teen angst that most of us goes through, the portrayal of all the adults as incompetent or uncaring or self-centered was a bit too biased for even my suspended disbelief. Perhaps once a human ages to 18 or perhaps 21, everyone turns into an incompetent ass.

The ending, while a bit of a surprise, was not very satisfying. There were so many questions with answers left unsaid or far too nebulous as to be satisfactory. When the SOMETHING BAD was first defined, I was a bit excited to see where the author was taking us. But no details on how the SOMETHING BAD came to be on the moon or what it’s motivations were were forthcoming. Sigh.

What I Liked: The cover; I could see Hollywood making a summer scream flick out of this book.

What I Disliked: All adults are idiots, egocentric, or disinterested in the teens; there was almost no nifty science; the character depth was minimal all around; the ending left several strings undone; overall, the book felt like a draft instead of a finished product.

As part of Stainless Steel Droppings’ R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event, I am going to count this book as scifi horror. This event is still going strong until the end of October, so feel free to hop over there and join the fun.

2 thoughts on “172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad”

    1. Yeah, it had a lot going for it, but I wish it didn’t feel like a draft. And since it was dealing with spaceflight, I was so looking forward to some cutting edge science and gadgetry – which was lacking. Sigh.

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