172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
First published in Norwegian by Cappelen Damm in September 2008
Tags: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Horror
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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.
I want to read more Norwegian books and I decided to start with this one, because it sounded fairly interesting, plus it has an English translation and is thus relevant on this blog. Yay.
I listened to this on audio and I think listening to it made me enjoy it more than if I actually read it. I feel like if I was reading it then I would have been more bored than I was during the first half of the book.
Because the first half of the book is a little bit slow. I don’t think they leave for the moon until the second half and there’s a lot of background information for the characters as they go about their every-day life back home. Speaking of the every-day, I found the chapter from Antoine’s ex pretty unnecessary. That’s not to say the first half isn’t interesting though, because it is. Especially the chapters from the old man in the retirement home, those were great.
So, this book is about three teens (from Norway, Japan, and France respectively) who win a lottery hosted by NASA to join a 172 hour mission to a previously unheard of moon base called DARLAH 2. Why? Because NASA needs money and bringing kids to the moon and televising it means media attention and MONEY (at least that’s what they say…). Anyway, mysterious shit starts happening on the moon and pretty soon it’s like reading a creepy Doctor Who episode, just without the Doctor to take charge and save the day so Mia will have to do. Stuff happens, stuff that puts everyone in danger and jeopardizes their chance of ever getting back to earth, and it’s both whacky and frightening.
And then the teens ask themselves… why is the station called DARLAH 2? What happened to DARLAH 1…?
Though the book isn’t that frightening for a book marketed as horror, but it’s not completely harmless either. While the scary stuff was happening to the people on the moon, the scariest part of the book for me was when we were told a story about something that happened to a teacher once back on earth. I can’t tell you what it was without spoiling the entire thing, but that story creeped me out more than the actual moon stuff. Ew. It made my neck prickle when I was walking from the kitchen to my room. Oh, and the scene in the computer room was pretty damn freaky too, so the book did have some nice horror moments.
Midori telling Mia and Antoine about Kuchisake-onna (I believe that’s her name, the woman with the slit mouth?) was creepy as well, but I’ve heard it before so I wasn’t hiding under my bed or anything. Japanese horror stories are the worst though, they freak me out so much ;_;
I did catch myself wondering if Midori was Japanese just so Johan Harstad had an excuse to tell that particular ghost story, LOL.
The ending though. Woah, that’s some dark, dark stuff. It surprised me but at the same time it didn’t, because the darkness of it is just so typical Scandinavian. This does not end like your typical YA sci-fi/fantasy.
I want to warn you though. If you know a lot about astronauts and space travel then this might not be the book for you. I’ve seen people call it out on its inaccuracies and I’m sure they’re right, I just know nothing about space travel and can suspend my disbelief just fine for the duration of the story. I might question a few things but I won’t dwell on it. If you’re bothered by things like that then this book might annoy you. But who knows?
So I enjoyed this book, I did. It could’ve been better, but it wasn’t bad. Like I said, it’s kind of like a Doctor Who episode (Water on Mars came to mind), so if you’re into that you might want to check it out.
Have you read this book? How much can you suspend your disbelief before you throw a book into the wall?