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Thursday, September 27, 2012

172 Hours on the Moon, by Johan Harstad

172 Hours on the Moon CoverIt'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.

Think...Apollo 18. That allegedly based-on-a-true-story movie that flopped. Big time. The idea is that we did go back to the Moon after Apollo 17 and we did stuff up there. And found things up there.

This story is very reminiscent of that story line to me. The difference is that this story works. It's an interesting premise--teenagers? on the moon? That's definitely different. But it also just flows well. It doesn't feel like The Blair Witch Project in space. (And I don't feel like a movie adaptation of this book would, either.)

It's a little slow to start. I did find myself wondering when it would hurry up already, but it paid off, nearly in spades. Once the kids get together for training, the action moves at a steady pace. I loved that Harstad drew out the revelations and provided so much "history" for background (how the DARLAH station came to be, why we put a station on the moon at all, etc.). It provided for a more believable sci-fi story.

The characters are interesting, a diverse. The only thing I really didn't like was how things played out with the female (adult) astronaut. I kind of felt her story was a cop-out. But that's me.

On a different note, this book was originally published in Norwegian. Translations always make me a little wary because sometimes the story (or even the flow of a sentence) work as well when translated. No fault of the author's, it's just sometimes the translation doesn't work. Harstad was incredibly lucky--the translation is great and very readable. It doesn't hinder the story at all.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This title is part of the permanent collection for the library that I oversee. No publisher or representative contacted me and I was not required to read it or prepare a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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