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Book Review: 172 Hours on the Moon
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The Book Slave   |  
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172 Hours on the Moon172 Hours on the Moon
By Johan Harstad
Little, Brown and Company
Hardcover | Kindle
Released April 17, 2012

Ah finally a creeptastic sci-fi space adventure! Johan Harstad’s anxiety provoking 172 Minutes on the Moon will make you rethink NASA and all those mysterious moon missions. Did they really find only moon rocks and dusty desolation, or did they find something so incomprehensibly sinister up there that Buzz Aldrin had to chuck his moon boots at it just before closing the lunar module and hightailing it back to earth?

NASA needs money. In order to get that money, they concoct a harebrained scheme to hold a worldwide lottery to select three lucky teenagers to go on the next moon mission. They figure if they hype it right, going to the moon will be bigger and better than going to Disneyland and, thus, be considered worthy of an ample share of government funds.

Millions of teens around the world apply for a coveted spot, one of whom really didn’t want to go, another who couldn’t care less about the mission, and one who signed up with a certain reluctant enthusiasm. What these three winners have in common is that they all wanted to get away from home for a while. Some had plans never to return to their countries of origin. Ironically, none of them were the slightest bit Geek.

Mia from Norway just wants to get the thing over with so she can return to her punk band, hoping her moon-made fame will propel her and her friends to rock stardom. Midori from Japan wishes to avoid a prescribed future of tedium as a conservative Japanese wife. Antoine from France is hoping a trip to the moon will help mend his broken heart and that his ex-girlfriend will choke on tears of regret when the world validates what a great guy she dumped.

Manned by a five-person crew who presumably know what the hell they’re doing, they all shoot off into space. It’s smooth sailing all the way to the moon, but it doesn’t take very long before the shit hits the scrubbers – big time. After only a couple of hours on the moon, there’s a sudden power failure in DARLAH2, the moon base that’s supposed to be their home for the next 172 hours. And that, as it turns out, is the least of their problems.

Without giving too much away, let’s just say that I was not expecting most of what happens in 172 Hours on the Moon. Harstad builds an exquisite amount of suspense all the way through to the end of the book. Even after the main conflict is resolved, he still doesn’t let you relax. This unsettling atmospheric thriller will keep you pinned in your seat while hurtling your imagination to the moon and beyond.

Johan Harstad is also the author of several other books, short stories and plays. 172 Hours on the Moon is not the first of his novels to be translated from Norwegian to English. You can read more of his translated stories on the website, Words Without Borders.

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