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Review: 172 Hours on Moon

By Johan Harstad, Grade B+

At some point in our lives, we all develop an unhealthy obsession with aliens and UFOs and what not, spending hours on internet research and refreshing the NASA website like a madman. Outer space is a big dark nothing shrouded with mystery and naturally, offers our imagination a free ticket to conjure all sorts of possibilities, ranging from a parallel universe to finding our negative halves on the moon. This particular treat by Johan Harstad does much to fuel that imagination.

A chilling, edge-of-your seat thriller.  Alien meets Moon.

‘Houston, this is Darlah 2.  We have a problem’
It was supposed to be the adventure of a lifetime.  Mia, Antoine and Midori had different reasons to want to enter NASA’s competition for a seat on the first shuttle to go back to the moon in over forty years.
But while they all wanted to escape earth, the never realized there might not be a chance to come home.
A prize-winner in its original Norwegian, 172 Hours on the Moon was published to great critical acclaim and went on to become a huge bestseller.

Three teens from different corners of the world have been chosen to accompany top astronauts on a NASA mission to the moon. Looking for an escape from their problems, a moon base located 238,000 miles from earth seems like a fairly viable option, even if slightly dangerous.  Mia, a vocalist in a band she loves to death, feels like an outcast and faces the usual problems of peer and parental pressure. Antoine is generally unhappy, thanks to his now ex-girlfriend, and Midori harbors dreams of living in New York, faraway from her overprotective parents.

The first half narrates their stories on Earth while the second half is the spooky part which stays with you for the rest of your lives, especially when you try to sleep at night (true story). The casual tale by Midori thrown in one of the chapters, about the ghost of the Japanese slit mouth woman robbed me of sleep.

“This is the beginning, she thought as she followed the sidewalk homeward and stepped into her front yard. This is where the whole thing finally begins”

The 172 hours on the moon are rather rushed but manage to evoke a worthy amount of curiosity regarding the moon and even NASA’s intentions. The romantic fool in me remains unsatisfied with the expression of emotions or lack thereof, between the characters, in spite of the budding romance between Mia and Antoine. I give the benefit of doubt though since the book was originally published in Norway and we are reading a translated version.

Finally, I am a fan of the black and white illustrations that randomly pop out from in between the chapters, intensifying the already sinister setting of the book.
This piece by Johan Harstad will definitely compel you to question the unknown and even the known.

This post was written by

Sugandha – who has written 13 posts on Vault of Books.
16, High School. Artsy movies, meaningful books and orgasmic music.

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  • Riya

    When I saw the cover of the book, I thought that it would be filled with space journey and boring descriptions of space life.

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