“In the decades since man's first steps on the moon, NASA has all but abandoned moon landings. Until now. Three teens, randomly selected from around the globe, will have the opportunity of a lifetime: participating in a brand new lunar mission. Once they're selected, they'll undergo months of training before heading off with a team of astronauts to DARLAH-2, a modular station built in the Sea of Tranquility in the seventies. The station has never been used. In fact, this team will be the first to ever set foot in DARLAH-2. But the mission isn't so straightforward. These teens and their team are about to find out the real reason man hasn't returned to the moon.
I was a little concerned at the outset with this one. It seemed to start a bit slow and I wasn't hitting it off with the characters. Mia, who never had any interest in the moon in the first place, is entered by her parents. She's down right rotten to them and only agrees to go after learning that her bandmates would die for the opportunity themselves. Antoine is hurting over a bad break up and signs up while obsessively mourning his relationship. And Midori is a bit of an outcast amongst her schoolmates in Japan. She dreams of escaping to a place where she'll fit in. For all of them, the fame and notoriety of being involved with the moon mission is the perfect opportunity. Once we get past the somewhat awkward introductions and into the meat of the story, 172 HOURS ON THE MOON gets really good.
I loved the creepy factor! The "truth" about DARLAH-2 when it's revealed, Midori's weird urban legends, the warnings before the mission begins, all of it is great! There were parts that were more than a little reminiscent of Apollo 18. Fortunately for us all, Harstad does a much better job with his moon horror.
I don't know why we don't have more space horror. Alien is phenomenally popular. I loved Pandorum. Just about every Mars movie has been pretty terrible, though, and while I was stoked about Apollo 18 in theory, in reality it didn't live up to expectations. 172 HOURS ON THE MOON gives me more hope. I'd like to see more like this!
And a nod to Tara F. Chace for her translation here. Harstad's teen debut was originally published in his native Norway. Harstad's style overall is very Scandinavian - there is a starkness that I notice with all the Scandinavian fiction I read and it's very much present in Harstad's book. Had I not known this was a translation going in, however, I don't think I would have noticed. The translation is completely smooth and seamless.”