172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad, Tara F. Chace (Translator).

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Rating – 4 stars.

Remember the time as a kid you would change your mind about your future profession? And becoming an astronaut was one of those options you considered? Like really what could be cooler than the great beyond out there and imagining yourself there is a thrill like no other. Yeah I did too, when I picked this book up to read. 

The plot of the book is somewhat this:

In the year 2018, in what is touted as a dream come true opportunity, NASA has announced a new mission to the moon with a worldwide contest that will allow 3 teenagers between 14 – 18 years of age, the opportunity to become the youngest people to have traveled the moon ever. In what the world sees as an incredible opportunity at worldwide fame & recognition and a chance to make history, NASA has its own motives.

Down on funds and sinking in popularity, the trip to the moon is a desperate attempt made by NASA to stop its sinking.

The three protagonists, Mia from Norway, Midori from Japan & Antoine from France are announced as the winners of the fantastical contest. 

The story behind each teen is revealed in the beginning of the book starting with Mia, who is a high school student and couldn’t care less about NASA’ announcement. All she wants is to make music, have her band become famous and tour places while getting away from her parents, especially her mom, who constantly annoy her. It is her parents who slyly enter her name in the contest without her consent and knowledge and her band-mates/friends who convince her to go on the trip when its announced she has won.

Midori, the second winner wants to get away from her parents as well but not because she is pissed at them, rather because she doesn’t wish to lead her life in the conventional way that is expected of her as a Japanese girl. One who has to marry by age 25, quit her job once she is married off and become a housewife who takes care of her home, husband and children and has no life beyond that. Midori’ elder sister is a student in London and she thinks her sister is happier in her life that way. Midori wishes to carve her own path and make a life in the big apple as soon as she turns 18 and never look back. Of course, she isn’t thinking about cutting ties off with her parents completely, only she wishes to follow in the footsteps of her sister, who makes it home twice a year and that’s about it.

Antoine isn’t dealing with parents, but a case of heartbreak when he participates on a whim in the win a trip to the moon contest. His girlfriend Sophie hasn’t just dumped him, she has moved on with another guy and all Antoine wants is to get away from her. As much as possible. He figures the trip will either get Sophie back with him or allow him a chance to get away from her as far as possible and what could be further away than the moon.

The three teens view this trip as an opportunity to attaining things in their life, not while once considering that all their plans could be for naught.

Looking up for some titles in the YA horror genre I came across Harstad’ 172 Hours on the Moon, the summary was impressive and I was intrigued about this trip to the moon that was a disaster in the making.

And quite honestly after having finished the book, all I can think is this is one of the eeriest books I have ever read. What I think is the scariest and yet the coolest part of this book is that the author has managed to scare the crap out of his readers but not giveaway the mystery at the core of all the horror. 

The weird signal, the creature that ultimately wrecks havoc on every character is never explained, not explicitly revealed. The who, why, what and how is left unanswered, unexplained. In a typical book that would have been a bummer but the sci-fi element of the book allows the author the liberty of getting away with this and not undermining the plot of the book while at it.

If freaky, sci-fi is your thing go pick a copy of 172 Hours on the Moon asap.

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