Book Thoughts: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

(**I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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.

Although I don’t review a lot of science fiction books, I am a huge fan of them. When I heard about 172 Hours on the Moon, I was immediately intrigued.  Not only does this book have a cool cover and an awesome plot, it also features characters from three different countries. I couldn’t not read this novel; it sounded exciting and new.

172 Hours on the Moon focuses on three teens: Mia from Norway, Antoine from France and Midori Japan. All three are dealing with different issues, such as heartbreak or the totally relatable desperate need to escape the town in which you live, which is so often a teenage characteristic. Each character’s situation is easy to understand and empathize with, so I had no trouble developing relationships with them.

This book is also filled with photos, facts and legends. Harstad took facts from real life and twisted them to build his plot. He also took a Japanese legend Kuchisake-onna, about a slit-mouth woman who stops people and asks if she beautiful, and worked it into the plot to enhance the story and his idea. I know you guys are probably asking what this ‘idea’ of Harstad’s is, but I don’t like to spoil things. I’m just going to tell you that although this is a work of fiction, this story did make me believe that it was true for a little bit. For the most part, Harstad’s words fit real evidence and as the tagline says, “Who knows what’s really out there?”

I found a lot of originality in the plot, but I don’t think a lot of parts of this book were well thought out. For example, all of the kids are from different countries and are taken to the United States to prepare for this mission. It doesn’t say that the kids all happen to speak English before they were chosen for the mission and the details of their preparation are never given. How do they all manage to understand each other and the crew? Is the audience supposed to assume that some measures were taken regarding communication? I also didn’t think the characters’ reactions were very realistic in certain situations. Another; I think that if an astronaut was given the order to protect people, I think he or she would go to any length to do so. I know not everyone would, but I definitely think the crews’ choices were the most unbelievable.

There are also parts of this novel that are very confusing. The background stories of the characters, which were referred to throughout the novel didn’t always match up, it seemed. Although it might just be me, I was confused with details referencing the characters’ ages. Many different characters also appeared throughout the story, but sometimes they didn’t seem necessary and left me wondering why they even existed in the book.

Overall, I think I was more intrigued by the idea of this novel, and that is what kept me reading, as opposed to books where the writing is just too good to put it down. There isn’t a heavy focus on romance, and this book shows that a piece can be strong without it, which I enjoyed. If you’re into science fiction, I suggest checking this book out.

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