[Audiobook Review] 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

Fry's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 7th January, 2015

[Audiobook Review] 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on April 5th, 2-12
Pages: 368
Source: Library
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 should really know better than to think I’d even get chills or anything remotely bordering thrills from a young adult novel. Not to mention I’ve been burned my mysterious moon media in the past. Have you seen that ‘found footage’ one where the moon rocks are made of spiders? I don’t even think the spiders did anything, really? They didn’t eat people? People just died around the moon spiders. Anyway. This was kind of like that, only some how worse.

I have to hand it to the narrator of the audio book. She did a wonderful job with the accents and every character was distinct and no one sounded super weird (here’s looking at you Roy Dotrice). So, kudos to her. Too bad the subject matter didn’t really live up to the performance.

So, apparently NASA has decided it needs to drum up some interest and financing for more moon missions. All the while, they totes know that there’s something on the moon, but decide that it can’t really be that bad. So, they decide to execute this by holding a lottery and letting some kids go to the moon on a reality show mission. Only, they open it up to everyone in the world (this seems a little outside of America’s grasp, you’d think the Russians would have had something to say, but they didn’t). Overall, the entire concept and execution reads like a bad American trope. FREEDOM! REALITY SHOWS! MOON MISSIONS! DID I MENTION FREEDOM!?

Our main characters all come from different backgrounds and completely different countries. Mia wants nothing more than for her band to make it big. Her parents, on the other hand, want her to go to the moon and get a scholarship or something, so they sign her up anyway. Mia decides that going to the moon would be good for her band in the long run and agrees to it. She’s probably the most vapid and shallow of the three teenagers chosen for the mission. She doesn’t even listen to music because she likes it. She drills it into her head in order to learn taste? I’m not even entirely sure, but it just sounded like a lot of work and not all that fun in the long run. Why not just listen to music you like, girl?

When we first meet Antoine, he’s pining over some girl and climbing up the Eiffel Tower in order to use the binoculars to spy into her bedroom. Super creepy. On top of that, by the time he gets to the moon, he’s decided that he’s pretty much in love with Mia, and would like to get to make her acquaintance and make out with her in her bunk. It was all pretty shallow and annoying, and Mia’s swooning over it was awful. I already knew she was shallow, but her declarations of love and friendship were so simpleminded that it got overly boring.

Midori is really just a stereotypical smart Japanese girl. She doesn’t have much thoughts or ideas beyond wanting to go to America and pursue a lofty expectation of some sort. Even once she gets to the moon, she’s sort of just there to keep the plot moving along.

NASA didn’t send up the kids without supervision, of course. And the adults on board all have a host of issues of their own. One decides, once it becomes obvious that the mission is failing, to medicate herself into oblivion. Then, when it’s quite clear that it’s time for her to actually do something and help people, she can’t even really function in that capacity. They were about as useful as the old base they dropped them all off at.

As for the creepy crawly on the moon? I’m not really sure what it was. A doppelganger? But not a benign one? I don’t even know. The explanation was dumb, and the ending was dumb and that just really brought it all down for me. I was hoping for something interesting and alien, and all I got was something mystical and murderous. It wasn’t even that scary.

Hopefully, at some point, young adult authors will realize that it’s okay to be super creepy. It’s fine. The Raven Boys actually gave me chills for a moment there, and that’s not even classified under horror. The horror section, on the other hand, is severely lacking.  Goosebumps and Fear Street were scarier than most of the young adult horror books I’ve picked up lately.

Written by Fry


Probably in a dungeon somewhere. Game Master for the D’n’D actual play podcast Roll For Wenches .

Leave a Reply