Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

12860573172 Hours on the Moon Discussion
Title: 172 Hours on the Moon
Author: Johan Harastan
Hardcover, 355 pages
Published April 17th 2012
By: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Note to the Readers:
I would first like to say that I did not research this book before reading it.  I didn’t read any reviews, the blurb, or even look to see what genre it was in.  If I had realized it was a horror book, I would have never even picked it up.  I assumed this book was just a normal YA Sci-Fi with a conspiracy… nope it was definitely not.

I would recommend this book to fan of sci-fi horror.  Since I am a scaredy cat and don’t purposely read horror books I don’t know of many to recommend.

So, the premise of this book is a wee bit farfetched.  It’s year 2016 and NASA decides they need to go up to the moon for some top secret research, but no one cares about space travel or the moon.  So, NASA plans this fantastic PR stunt that hopefully will give the world Moon Fever like in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  It’s actually really clever, they make all the spacecrafts and the whole shebang feel very retro.  They are trying to appeal to the older crowd that remembers the lunar missions of the late 60’s and the 70’s.   NASA also knows that they need the support of the younger generations too; they decide to make a huge international lottery.  In this lottery three teenagers will be selected and trained to accompany the astronauts of the lunar mission.

The reader meets each of the lottery winners as they decide to enter the lunar lottery.  Each has a unique reason for entering.

Mia Nomeland lives in Norway; she doesn’t care at all about entering her name into the lunar lottery.  All Mia cares about is her punk rock girl band making it big, and finding a way to get her parents off her back.  Mia’s parents enter her in the lottery to give her more opportunities in life.  Much to her chagrin she is selected over millions of other teens and must now travel to the US and begin the NASA training.

Midori Yoshida is a Japanese girl that dreams of moving to New York.   She has never quite fit in with the girls at school, and knows that she would find a place for herself in New York.  She longs to flee Japan, and the Japanese Trap—becoming a subservient housewife.  When Midori enters the lunar lottery she knows in her heart that she will be chosen.  When she finds out that she has been selected to go to the moon, she decides to never return to Japan and to start a life in New York after her time in space.

Antoine Devereux lives in Paris, France; he has a great life.  He has a fantastic girlfriend, Simone, and two caring parents.  Everything is perfect until Simone dumps Antoine for a new guy.  Lovesick and confused Antoine decides that to go to the moon, to get away from Simone.  Even though the odds are against him, Antoine never doubts that he will be selected for space.

Okay, so the three untrained children that NASA is spending billions of dollars on the three lottery winners show up at NASA for training.  Here you also meet the other crew members, Kaitlin being my favorite.  She’s young about 30 and is the most relatable of the group.  The book really doesn’t go into the details of their training; it skips of that.  I think Harstad wanting us to get to know the character and then go to the moon with them.

10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3...2…1…BLAST OFF!  They go to the moon.  This is when I started to realize this book isn’t a conspiracy moon book, it’s a horror moon book.   I don’t want to give anything away.  So, I’m just going to say, odd little things start happening on the moon, then the odd things turn into completely horrifying things. As in I read this book 2 months ago and still think about it.  (Like I said, I’m a scaredy cat!)

Not only does this book follow the three teen space travelers, but also an old man in a nursing home.  The old man was once a janitor at NASA where he learned the terrifying truth about the moon.  The old man is unable to tell the readers (or anyone for that matter) what happened on the moon because of Alzheimer’s and deteriorate motor skills.  I found this man to be very interesting and sad at the same time.  He was probably my favorite character in the book.

I’m not sure what to say about this book, because I am not a person who likes to be scared for fun.  I enjoyed this book until it got scary.  It was written very well, I like the characters, and it made me feel like I was in space.

·      I liked how each of the teens went to space for a different reason, and how none of those reasons were “I really think astronomy is cool.”  I think it shows teenagers motives accurately.  Midori’s motive was to escape the mundane, and Antoine’s was because of lovesickness.
·      I like how the POV switched between the three teenagers most often, but also included the other crew members too.
·      Before each teen arrived at the NASA center they each mysterious saw two characters of a secret message 6E, QU, J5, which is from a real signal that was transmitted from space in the late 70’s.  (It’s pretty interesting; y’all should research it more).  I thought it was pretty cool that this part was based on historical events.
·      I like that there was a negligible amount of romance in this book.
·      I feel like I got to know each of the main characters pretty well.
·      The whole time I just keep thinking, why would they choose high school students and not college graduate  students. In my mind college students would be a better bet, because they are over 18 and would be more mature.  I feel like the only reason the characters were in high school was to market the book to high school students.
·      I thought it was super creepy and odd that Antoine would spy on his ex-girlfriend though a telescope, and even weirder that she found out and wasn’t completely creeped out by it.  I feel like most girls would think it was an utter evasion of their privacy and call the police.
·      Back to the mysterious space code I mentioned earlier 6EQUJ5, also known as the Wow! Signal.  Each one of the teens randomly received a piece of the signal, but it was never explained who or why.  They each saw it as a warning, but ignored it.  It doesn’t quite make since whom or what would have warned them.  It would have (or could have) made since if this was a conspiracy book, but it’s a horror.

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