Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

172 Hours on the Moon - Johan Harstad

Mind: Let's be blown!

Me: Sorry, busy hugging my knees here on the floor.

Well... this is kind of strange. More often than not I read a blurb and become all excited. Then, as I read, my interest diminishes the further I get into the book until I simply just don't care anymore. (This might be because I've read through a number of NA-books lately.) With 172 Hours on the Moon it was the complete opposite.

From the blurb alone about three teenagers being sent to the moon after winning a lottery I had the nagging feeling I wouldn't like these three characters. Since one of the characters motive for going is to get away from home, and another's motive being to run away from his ex, that gave me pretty much two people with no interest in actually going to the moon. Then after reading about five pages about the third winner (before she enters the lottery though) I knew I wouldn't like her either considering she plagiarizes other band's music, and writes songs with names like "Bomb Hiroshima Again".

This didn't exactly leave off for a good start.

What follows is an excruciating long part centering these three young people before they go to the moon. 145 pages to be exact. If the author wanted something with these pages, I don't know. It offers little in the department of character development or any crucial information to the plot. For me, this part could've been cut down to at least half that number of pages and the story would still be the same. 

Then came the turning point.

This has lately been the point where I figure I just have to get through the rest. However, in 172 Hours on the Moon this is where shit gets real. Strange things beings to happen almost immediately when they reach the moon and station, scaring the eight crew members. Suddenly that tiny spark of interest I still harbored began to grow. Little by little that spark grew to a fire until, well, it blew up like a firework. Without spoiling anything – and telling any of these strange things will spoil the book – it's hard to put into words how creepy this book eventually turns out. It's strange, dauntingly so with the author's marvelous descriptions of the moon's climate. Harstad is spot-on when he delivers these nerve-wracking events, creating an authentic take on the moon.

Harstad keeps you in the dark until the very last page. The last chapters is a bomb of chilling and heartbreaking events. Some questions are left open and these, in addition to the lack of good character development, are the main reasons for not giving this book a higher rating. Although some readers might find these points making the book as a whole even more eerie, it disappointed me. Especially since I can't come up with good reasons for why certain things were revealed before the trip took place. 

All three teenagers see hints of what awaits them in space. They see special numbers and letters that refers to the Wow!signal. In addition to seeing these characters they are also hinted to not go to space due to this. There is no explanation for this. What is strange is that the thing awaiting them is said to be standing outside all good and evil, so why would it bother warn these people?

(show spoiler)


So, was 172 Hours on the Moon worth the time? The first half, no. The second half, definitely. The poor character development takes away very little creepiness from the craziness happening. The ending left me shivering and, as said in the beginning, my mind blown.