172 Hours on the Moon – by Johan Harstad
Fifty years after the first man walked on the moon, we’re going back. What’s more, in honour of the occasion three teenagers will be chosen in a lottery to accompany the astronauts and become the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth people to set foot on the moon’s surface. Norwegian Mia, the Japanese Midori and Antoine, from France are three of millions of teens worldwide to register for the lottery, and chance or fate steps in – they’re going to be a part of man’s return to the moon!
This incredible mission has the world in a frenzy of excitement, patriotism and optimism about man’s future. Everyone is watching to see the teenagers prepare and to see the trip come together. In what feels like no time at all to Mia, Midori and Antoine, they’ve blasted off and are on the moon, to spend 172 hours making history.
Mia isn’t as giddy with excitement about the opportunity as the whole world seems to expect. There are too many questions that haven’t been answered. Why wait so long to go back? Why send teenagers along; just for the press coverage? What is this base that no-one has ever heard of since it was built in the ’70s, DARLAH 2? And, since it’s DARLAH 2, what happened to DARLAH 1, and why won’t anyone talk about it?
This novel started off as a bit of an adventure story; three kids from different backgrounds finding themselves a part of a worldwide historical moment. But when the action moves to the moon, the tone abruptly became menacing, sinister – because those on the mission aren’t alone on the moon. The entire second half of the story is more horror than adventure, as it quickly becomes apparent that not everyone will make it safely back to Earth, and less clear what exactly they’ll be if they do.
I read this book feeling like I was watching a movie rather than reading a book, because like a sci fi movie the novel focused more on the plot than the characters, leaving me disconnected. I also experienced Hunger Games deja vu; once people started dying those watching from Earth felt a lot like the masses tuning into the spectacle of the Capitol’s Hunger Games. The world was just waiting to see who would make it home.
Creepy, atmospheric, and cinematic, an okay action novel, but not for people holding out for any happy ending.
What did you think of Harstad’s vision of the moon?