Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: 172 Hours on the Moon

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
Translated by Tara F. Chace
Publication Date: April 17, 2012 (first published September 15, 2008)
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover: 355 pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.

Mini-summary: Three teenagers, who are the winners of a global lottery, are sent to the moon by NASA in this YA horror novel. What they encounter on the moon will make your skin crawl.  172 Hours on the Moon is a refreshingly sinister tale.

Why I read this book:  Have you seen the gorgeous (and creepy) cover??  The black-eyed creeper on the cover and the title alone (I'm a little obsessed with titles) made me snatch up this book.

172 Hours on the Moon is a YA horror novel told from the perspective of several different characters in the year 2019.  In this way, the reader is able to see glimpses of the main characters as well as some minor characters.

The public's interest, and NASA's budget, have fained over the years.  Space exploration is no longer the revolutionary venture of decades past.  For reasons identified at the beginning of the book, NASA intends to announce that there will be another moon landing but with a caveat - a global lottery will be held and three lucky teenagers selected to accompany the astronauts to the moon.  This is capitalization at its finest, folks.

And the winners are....

Midori, a sixteen-year-old girl from Japan who dreams of life in New York, far away from the cultural expectations of becoming an obediant and devoted Japanese wife.

Antoine, a French boy languishing over the girl who broke his heart, hopes to escape Paris and the memories of his romance.  He enters the lottery, seemingly on a whim, to put as much distance from his ex-girlfriend Simone as possible.

Mia, a sixteen-year-old from Norway who is entered in the lottery by her parents - against her wishes  - ends up going to the moon in hopes of attaining international recognition and eventual stardom for her band.

It takes the first half of the book to establish the main characters and for the training to place, along with a few suspicuous events days before the launch.  Once the three teens are on the moon with the crew, the desolation and realization of their whereabouts is kicked into overdrive.  It's from this point that the book really takes off.  I was somewhat disappointed that there wasn't more of the delicious horror the book offered up only towards the very end. 

And the ending!  The ending is amazing. I loved it. The plot is believeable and the horror aspect wonderfully twisted.  I do wish at points that there could have been a first person POV snippet at the end, to gain more insight into the mindset and actions of some of the characters.  The last few pages wrapped up so quickly - and in a very detached sort of way - that really made me wish the author had slowed the plot a little, to let the reader relish and enjoy the ending.  And while I would have liked to have been more invested in the characters, the horror aspect once everyone was on the moon is what ended up winning me over. 

Rating: 4

Memorable Quotes
 "The odds of being attacked by a great white shark: 11,500,000 to 1.
The odds of being killed in a plane crash: 354,319 to 1.
The odds of being killed by parts falling from a plane: 10,000,000 to 1.
The odds winning an Oscar: 11,500 to 1.
The odds of becoming president: 10,000,000 to 1.
The odds of hooking up with a supermodel: 88,000 to 1.
The odds of winning an Olympic gold medal: 88,000 to 1.
The odds of seriously injuring yourself shaving: 685,000 to 1.
The odds of being killed by a meteor landing specifically on YOUR house: 182,128,880,000,000 to 1.
     The last one was basically the only one that was less likely than his getting to go to the moon.   
     Antoine sat there looking at the numbers for a minute.  Then he leaned over his keyboard and entered his name, birth date, phone number, and address. 
     He thought about it one last time. 
     Then he hit send."

About the Author
Johan Harstad is a 31-year-old Norwegian author, graphic designer, playwright, drummer, and international sensation. He is the winner of the 2008 Brage Award (Brageprisen), previously won by Per Petterson, and his books have been published in over 11 countries. In 2009, he was named the first ever in-house playwright at the National Theatre in Oslo. His first novel Buzz Aldrin, What Happened To You In All The Confusion, originally published in Norway by Gyldendal in 2005, was made into a TV series in 2009 starring The Wire’s Chad Coleman. Harstad lives in Oslo and is working on his next novel.

Website / Barnes and Noble / Amazon

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