I heard about this book from my sister who has been devouring audiobooks on her commute each day. 172 HOURS ON THE MOON, by Norwegian author Johan Harstad, was originally released in Norway back in 2008, but was released in the US by Little, Brown in 2012 with a big web campaign to try to gain a whole new following. Honestly, I hadn’t heard of it.
172 HOURS looks like sci-fi, but it is actually a horror novel with a sci-fi background. I wasn’t even sure it was YA until I really got into it, but it follows the premise that NASA wants to send people back to the moon for a special mission—including three teenagers chosen from a worldwide lottery. Interesting idea, even if a bit far-fetched at times.
So, the teens spend months training and accompany five astronauts to the moon, where they are to locate and live on a secret NASA moon station called Darlah 2, which was erected kind of like the International Space Station—in sections and over time, although no one actually (supposedly) spent any time in it.
As it turns out, there was a Darlah 1, but it was abandoned along with all other missions to the moon after some strange occurances, which none of the teenagers and most of the other astronauts knew nothing about. I won’t give away the twist, no worries.
This was a fun listen for me. At first, I was a little distracted by the woman who read the audiobook. She gave each character the appropriate accent for each character’s country (a Norwegian, a Japanese student, a French student, and several Americans) as they would sound speaking English. I found it a bit funny, but after a while, I realized that it was really necessary with so many different characters, especially in an audiobook version.
172 HOURS ON THE MOON won a Brage Prize (A Norway Library prize) when it was first released there. However, even though Little, Brown devised an incredible web campaign to generate interest in the book when it was released in North America (a website where teens could register for a supposed mission to the moon), I’m not sure it worked as well as they hoped. Or maybe I was just oblivious to it at the time.
While I’ve seen some complaints about the English translation of this novel being spare and stilted, I think it fits this novel perfectly. We don’t need a lot of flowery prose in a book about a place as desolate and harsh as the moon.
If you can pick up a copy of this book, it’s a quick, fun, chilling romp on the surface of the moon. I’m all about the scary….