172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

Mia, Antoine and Midori are the envy of the world. They are the three lucky teenagers who have been randomly chosen to go on a trip to the moon  to commemorate the first landing.  As everyone tunes in to watch the takeoff, we find Oleg Himmelfarb in front of the TV at his nursing home, trying to remember something as the footage of the moon plays. No one is supposed to go back to the moon, he thinks. What is it they find on the moon again?

First off, 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad is not the best written book. Perhaps something is lost in translation from the Norwegian original. Nevertheless, this science fiction still has its merits and good entertainment value. Here's our joint review (contains spoiler):

Steven: It took way too long to get into the real story. The first 150, maybe even 200 pages, were just setting up who these characters were, but this background info, except maybe in the case of Mia, was not mentioned ever again in the rest of the book.  This book seriously violates the principle of Chekhov's Gun and it makes for a frustrating reading experience. None of the background info helps us care more about the characters because their backstories are irrelevant to the rest of the plot.
Like the bit about Antoine's girlfriend. The chapter from her point of view in which she feels that something bad has happened to him is quite pointless, since readers already knew about it.

Virginia: That is definitely my biggest complaint about this book too. Fortunately, for those who stick with the book, it does get better and progressively more intense. Once they were on the moon and mysterious and horrible things started to happen, we have a story. You kinda knew that there's no hope for these guys, and I'm glad they stick with that throughout, rather than taking the easy way out.  I like the ending. Feels right to me and it fits.

Steven: The book could have ended a couple of pages earlier, though.  Things are spelled out to us that may have been better left to the imagination.  I already know that a threat exists: it was explained to us more than once already.

Virginia:  Maybe it's priming for a sequel...  Well, like we said, despite its flaws and plot holes, the book is still worth recommending. One thing I know we both really like is that this book is one of the rare cases where even though we have a female protagonist, it's not about a girl, and so there's no girly-ness to it at all. 

Steven: The book also really reminded me of a Japanese horror Manga.  I haven't read many, but the ones I have read felt much like this: hopeless and bleak.  Come to think of it, it seems most Nordic entertainment that we get over here is like that.  Maybe this isn't unusual.  You tell me, Virginia.  You read Nordic authors.

Virginia: Yah, probably pretty grim, even for crime fiction. The main guys are generally more flawed, and  at least for the ones I've read, you don't really feel the triumph of solving a crime and a job well done at the end. Can't get enough of them though. 

Despite its flaws, we'll still recommend this sci-fi/horror to readers who enjoy Alien, Event Horizon, Solaris, or the more depressing Philip K. Dick works.
Email Facebook Twitter Favorites More


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...