Friday, 27 April 2012

review: 172 Hours on the Moon

by John Harstad; translation by Tara F. Chace
Little, Brown and Company, April 17 2012
young adult science fiction
ARC received from publisher (thank you!)

Three teenagers are going to be the first on the moon in decades, thanks to NASA’s new program. Mia wants in on the fame it’ll bring her homegrown Norwegian band. Midori wants out of her desolate future in Japan. Antoine wants to get as far as possible from his ex-girlfriend, and if that means leaving Paris, so be it. But NASA abandoned the last mission to the moon for a reason—and that reason is still there, waiting for them…
The cover:

(...This is a lot of rambling that only has to do with the cover, so feel free to skim or skip if you want to know more about the book itself.)

So my ARC has that cover up there... but Goodreads has this cover to your right (although it's pubbed by a different house), and I have to say that both are appealing. The first has that wicked eye/lunar landscape mash up, plus the whole desolate feel that really goes with the book's atmosphere, while the second one has a shiny chrome feel and a picture of the girl(s) which is surprisingly accurate. (No spoilers here!). Plus the title is squarely formatted, which I love. But it's a wee bit too light to match the book's tone. So bottom line, second one's more eye-catching but first one suits book more.

The book:

Okay, so the summary of this novel doesn’t give much to go on as to what the aforementioned sinister thing is. This results in a slow beginning as we get acclimatized to each of the three characters; the introductions to Mia, Midori and Antoine are surprisingly in-depth and realistic considering that it doesn’t get used again. But that’s getting ahead of myself.

The ambiguity also results in a sharp incline in pacing. And sharp means sharp. The story might be slow up until part two (“The Sky”), but once we’re on the moon, stakes rise, almost cliff-like. While the omniscient POV switching may at times seem random, it also serves to up the tension, and helps the reader to not grow too attached to any one character. Which is a good thing.

The real selling point of 172 Hours on the Moon isn’t just the moon trip and all the technological details that go into it, though. It’s the dash of thriller, the tinge of horror that makes you go "OM(f)G" and made me certain that I could never read this at night. (Unfortunately I learned that the hard way, haha.) Though the twist isn't fully explained or explicable, it doesn't matter--or at least, it didn't matter to me. The scariness was good enough.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5