172 Hours on the Moon

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Interesting and original. Science fiction. Review Posted Online: Feb. Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. Email address:. Please provide an email address.


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Categories of Interest: Select All. Current Affairs. Historical Fiction. True Crime. Profession: Author. It's been a while since I've written a book review I really ought to read more! I have different pieces of criticism for different parts of the book, because the beginning, the middle, and the end of this novel are all very different from each other.

The first half of the book focuses on the three kids at Earth as they debate whether or not to enter the lottery and eventually win their spots on the moon. My number one complaint here was that one of the teenagers, Mia, was an annoying brat.

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It's beginning to really get on my nerves that every single female protagonist in a young adult novel is a snarky selfish twit. Even if she's mostly nice, she'll usually revert to making some irritatingly judgmental comment about nerdy men or women.


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In this novel, Mia was just more of a wench to her mother. It was the other female protagonist, Midori, the Japanese one, who judgmentally referred to anyone who would WANT to win the contest and go to the moon as a "moon nerd," as if that was a bad thing. On a related note, there was a bit of an inconsistency with that as later, when they were on the moon, Midori was taking notes "eagerly" when one of the adult astronauts explained what their mission was and how they were going to achieve it.

Aside from my distaste for Mia and Midori, which was made up for by my ability to relate and care about Antoine, the only other complaint I have is that sometimes the writing is hard to follow, and not in a "Harstad uses big words" kind of way. It's more like he changes the subject of a paragraph in the middle of it without forming any kind of connection to the previous half. But that only happened to me, maybe times while reading the whole story, and perhaps the paragraphs would be more intuitive to other people who aren't me.

Also, that could very well have been an error on the translator's part, now that I think about it. The first half of the book is all excitement build-up for mission to the moon, with a few ominous scenes towards the mid-point to set up the creepy tone for the second half.

It's not long after the group lands on the moon that scary stuff starts to happen, and I must say, the scary stuff is handled masterfully in this story. Not everything worked on me, but, then again, I'm not gonna find every joke in a comedy funny, either. I did start to get a little bored and disinterested a few chapters after the midpoint, I think because it focused on Mia and Antoine's budding relationship too much. Most of their relationship was formed via narration anyway instead of getting inside the characters heads and really feeling the chemistry between them.

And why anyone would like Mia, at least during the first two thirds of the novel, I don't know. If you have not read the novel, I urge you to stop reading this review now. The last third of the book sparks most of my criticism. Up to this point, none of the characters really know what their enemy is, they only know some creepy, unexplainable things have happened. The reader is aware from the very beginning that there's some kind of sinister presence on the moon, but that only makes it more creepy for us, since we don't know what that presence is.

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In the last third, however, the characters learn as much as you'll ever know. There are a couple of plot holes in this novel. A couple of BIG plot holes. The plot holes are annoying in this story because they prevent you from guessing the outcome of the book. It's nice that the story is unpredictable, and the over-all outcome of the story everybody dies left me feeling satisfied if a bit depressed, but I feel like it was a little cheap to use things that don't make any sense to keep the audience guessing.

It turns out that the creatures on the moon are non-living entities that can take on the appearance of anyone they Come into contact with?


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Who touches the moon's surface? Donno, it's never explained. Anyways, they look like ordinary people except their shadows face the wrong way because of reasons, and the bottom part of their irises are darker. This makes the story fun because they could be anyone you know!

The story is made even more fun by the fact that the creatures never appear as a person in a space-suit, and because the rules are never fully explained, you assume if someone is in a space-suit they're not a creature. This leads to a big surprise when Mia discovers the Midori she has been running around on the surface of the moon with has actually been dead for quite some time. Anyways, back to the plot-holes. There are two kinds of plot-holes. There are things that are just never explained fully, and there are things that break their own rules, or apparent rules, or rules of common sense.

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I'll go over the first category first. Mia is given a letter from her little brother which she never gets the chance to read and I can think of a couple instances where it would have been really heart-wrenching for her to have that letter on hand.

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This is only a hole in the sense that I noticed it was missing the whole time I read the story. It's not even at the end of the book, where there IS an inclusion of a letter Mia apparently wrote, despite the fact that she definitely didn't have time to sit down and write a letter during the climax of the novel.

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It's also never fully explained why the teenagers are sent to the moon in the first place. One of the adult astronauts, Colemen, said that their real, secret mission was to stop the spread of these creepy creatures, and yet, why? Why would they forget about it for years and years and suddenly decide to go back? Secondly, why didn't anyone take any offensive-action against them?

Surely if they were meant to stop them they should have had a plan, mission orders or whatever, that might have given them a fighting chance. Furthermore, wouldn't going back just jeopardize the spread of the creatures? It doesn't really make any sense.

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Each of the characters receive a warning about going to the moon, and it actually seems like the moon-creatures themselves sent the warning. Why would they do that? Also, if they have the power to control events on Earth already, why is the government so afraid of them returning? The second category of plot holes follow from the first. After arriving on the moon, everybody survives in complete peace for long enough to reach the first moon base and get settled in.

I can forgive the fact that the creatures would have actually attacked them and killed them all right away because this is a horror story and it needs build up. The creatures do show a lust for toying with their pray, so I'll just consider that the reason. What bothers me, though, is that the creatures seem to have a goal at the very end of the novel: to reach earth.

Throughout the whole novel, they kill randomly, and they never make any attempt to accomplish this goal until the very end for the sake of a plot twist. They could have killed Colemen first, since he was the only guy who knew what they were, and then pretended to be, and then got everybody back on the rocket and headed to Earth. Not only that, but there is another base that has an escape pod that has been on the moon the whole time, and they never once decided to hop inside and take a ride.

This isn't explained away by the fact that they didn't know the pod was there--they seem to have the ability to read people's minds and memories. They would have known about it as soon as Colemen stepped onto the moon.