172 Hours on the Moon by Johann Harstad
I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Johan Harstad’s 172 Hours on the Moon. Visions of Space Camp danced in my head when I read the synopsis. But this story is WAY creepier than an accidental launch of kids into space. Space Camp is a totally 80′s Goonies-style space adventure, that has a certain relentless optimism. Did you ever doubt those kids would be alright in the end?
172 Hours on the Moon has way more in common with those 60′s/70′s freaky deeky space movies like Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey that portray a space journey that is psychologically jarring and somewhat mystical.
These stories make you fear EVER leaving Earth’s atmosphere, because it’s so freaking obvious that space is out to make you lose your damn mind, to make your buddies inexplicably turn on you, and to make trusted, beloved machinery taunt you and sabotage your mission. The moment you put that spacesuit on, you are guaranteed spacekill.
Here’s what I love MOST about the fantastically creepy 172 Hours on the Moon:
Kids in Space, and it’s no accident
The idea of a worldwide lottery for teens to be chosen to visit the moon as a PR stunt appeals to the space program-loving nerd inside me. 1) what teen wouldn’t love to do this? and 2) Nasa NEEDS money. I mean, hello? Look at the state of our current space program.
Sorry, cheerful little astronaut man. DENIED.
I can see some crazy stunt like this actually illiciting a much-needed injection of private investment that would allow the program to keep truckin. (NASA, think about it, m’kay?)
This teens-to-the-Moon ploy is even more delicious in the book because Nasa bigwigs totally KNOW this mission is deadly; they flat out admit they are trying to investigate the bizarre, inexplicable Moon happenings further. Yet they still decide to bring some teens along for the money. What could go wrong?
Japanese horror stories
Midori has some freaky Japanese urban legends that begin to bleed into her real life. It reminds me of all those Japanese horror movies Hollywood kept remaking a few years back, when all the originals were WAY better. Oh, so creepy……
These are so scary because they look and sound just like us, and you never, ever know which one to shoot.
Mia, Antoine and Midori are balls out awesome. I would totally be friends with them. There is a little bit of each of these teens in me. I remember being obsessed with music like Mia, and totally against being told what to do (even if I eventually wanted to do it anyway). I thrived on being contrary and difficult. I’ve got a touch of Antoine’s romantic sentimentalism (though not his stalkerish craziness). And I remember feeling Midori’s get-out-of-Dodge (and hopefully in to NYC) pangs growing up. Like you just KNOW were meant for another town, another state, another contintent, even.
It’s a shame going in that you know 2 out of 3 of these kids are going to bite it (it’s in the book description). While reading I didn’t want to lose any of them.
Really well-done horror IN SPACE
172 Hours on the Moon is basically a pee-your-pants scary horror story IN SPACE.
(PS authors—this is an amazing device. Any story, of any kind is 1000x cooler IN SPACE. A re-telling of Pride & Prejudice IN SPACE. A down-on-her-luck dancer trying to make it in the big city IN SPACE. An arena full of children fight to the death IN SPACE.
IN SPACE is the new WITH ROBOTS.)
The writing style is cool and clipped, which contributes to the overall sense of dread and doom. I was totally and utterly skeeved out for most of the story.
The best part? The inexplicable signal that sets this whole adventure off, and provides the basis for this story is REAL. Yup. This could happen. Or maybe it already has……
I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who likes a good sci-fi thriller/horror novel. It’s a fast, satisfying read.
Check out these trailers, in the form of a faux press conference, and a transmission from the moon.