Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

Posted November 1, 2013 by Liza in Reviews / 1 Comment

Arianne reviewed a book very appropriate for Halloween, sorry I post her review one day after 🙂

Title: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
Release date:  April 5th 2013
Source: Sent by publisher for review
Age group: Young adult
Genre: Science fiction

Grade rate: C-

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.


72 Hours on the Moon is a book that truly stands out from the crowd. It is really, really different from anything we’ve seen before.  Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped I would.

 Packed with action, fraught with tension and perforated by fear, it has ‘thriller’ written all over it. It’s an edge-of-your-seat story with a bleak backdrop and issue-driven characters. Johan Harstad has also embraced his science fiction side, however, so naturally, there are aliens involved.
I loved the opening. A multinational conglomerate re-investigating the possibility of putting people on the moon? It’s genius. The research and use of documentation, pictures and even the famous Wow! signal give it an especially plausible feel.

However, the characterization of the book let it down. Midori, Antoine and Mia are great main characters in theory but they just don’t live up to expectation. Mia in particular is given a lot of time on the page. She’s by no means a stereotypical female lead and may even be the last hope against the dreadful fate that appears to await all who dare set foot on the surface of the moon, but she never really came to life for me. I wanted to like her but there was nothing to like!

The pacing is also a problem. The author glosses over a romance and a several-month chunk of training in the first half of the book. This valuable time could have been used to develop the characters more, but instead they were left sketchy and vague. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moon mission and perhaps that’s what most readers want to get to when reading a book like this, but I actually would have preferred it had the mission been delayed and the early parts of the story had been given more attention.

This trend of uninspiring writing continues throughout the book. I should mention that 172 Hours on the Moon was originally published in Norway and the lost-in-translation effect of English-language publishing could be easily to blame for the stylistic negatives of the story. As for the central plot and character mistakes, I’m not so sure.

The real downer of 172 Hours on the Moon is the fact that it soon turns into a horror story – and that wasn’t what I wanted from it. Move over, plot concepts and character progression – it’s gore galore in here. I’d signed up for creepy; I got horrific.

I should talk about the ending, though. I did not see that one coming! Inherent bloodshed aside, it allowed me to at least enjoy one section of the book. I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say it’s worth sticking with 172 Hours on the Moon just to read it.

This book was equal parts good and bad, but it’s the extent of gore and horror that really tips it over the negative scale for me.  Overall, just not my style – though it is worth noting that around the same time as I was reading this, Lynx launched their Space Academy contest and commercials. I nearly fell off my chair when I realized how similar the premise was to the beginning of 172 Hours on the Moon. Perhaps science fiction isn’t so fictional after all…

Originally posted at: Daisy Chain Book Reviews

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One response to “Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

  1. Frankly, I skipped most of the beginning to get to the part they are in the moon. I liked all that tension up there. But the ending… a terrible disappointment.

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