Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

127 Hours on the Moon
Johan Harstad
Series: None
Released: September 15th, 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Rating: 3.5 stars
Fright Scale: 8.5 out of 10
Reviewed by: Blythe

Add to Goodreads

It's been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of an unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space--and change their lives forever. 

Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band's ticket to fame and fortune. Midori believes it's her way out of her restrained life in Japan. Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.

It's the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space... no one is coming to save them.

In this chilling adventure set in the most brutal landscape known to man, highly acclaimed Norwegian novelist Johan Harstad creates a vivid and frightening world of possibilities we can only hope never come true.

Yesterday, I watched The Blair Witch Project for the first time since its release fourteen years ago. Now, for those of you who still haven't seen The Blair Witch Project and know not much about it, what tends to either make or break the film for people is the fact that it keeps the audience almost entirely in the dark in regards to its titular witch. The purpose of this is to have the viewers illustrate their own image of the witch in their heads, thereby establishing that, in the end, a viewer's imagination can be scarier than anything presented to them in film. 

In the same vein, 172 Hours on the Moon is like The Blair Witch Project. Johan Harstad keeps us all in the dark until the very end of the novel (which I suppose is a step up from TBWP, considering there are no answers given at the end of that), and sometimes, it's frustrating. More often than not, it reads like that one boyfriend in many crappy paranormal romances; you know, the one that keeps vital information from the MC because "she's not ready for it," or "it's too dangerous"? 

Or, some scientist is about to give us answers, but he's cut off abruptly and doesn't finish his sentence. However, with that having been said, I am really glad Harstad chose this method of storytelling for 172 Hours on the Moon, because all of the events are only made that much scarier when you truly have no idea what is performing said events. 

And as for 172 Hours being scary, it's scary. Frightening. Horrifying. Downright chilling. Disquieting. 

All of the above. 

Granted, how horrifying I think this novel is may be biased, considering the fact that the thought of space in and of itself makes me feel short of breath, but looking at other reviews, I'm not sure that's the case. No matter what you're afraid of or not afraid of, 172 Hours seems to have struck a nerve with nearly every reader. 

"In space no one can hear you scream."

- Alien (1979)

While the daunting nature of Harstad's writing style was certainly not something that was lost in translation, I think that the quality of the character development may have been. Or maybe genuine character and relationship development was never something in the novel to begin with, but either way, I think it's safe to say I didn't care about any of the characters in 172 Hours. In fact, if I wasn't assured by many that the last half is scary, I likely would have DNF'd at some point in the first half. 

172 Hours is a novel that requires two things: patience, and suspension of disbelief. For about half of the novel, the three teenagers aren't even on the moon yet. And if you, like me, do not care for the characters, the first half may be a bumpy ride. Also, why is NASA bringing three teenagers to the moon, when it's known that there is something highly dangerous on the moon? *shrug* We're given a pretty shitty explanation, and you kind of have to just go with it.

But I promise you, regardless of whether or not you're afraid of space, or the moon, or whatever, there will be something in 172 Hours on the Moon to unsettle you at the very least. The way Johan Harstad describes the barren landscape of the moon, the scary stories scared amongst the three teenagers, and of course, what's lurking on the moon, is sure to scare the crap out of you. And odds are you'll enjoy being scared, because no matter what, 172 Hours on the Moon is a fun and deeply chilling read, and once you get past the nitty gritty you won't be able to put it down (regardless how much you may want to, so that you can take a breather and turn on a light).


  1. OMG *covers ears* That song is PAINFULLY catchy. NOOO get rid of the sound! I haven't heard of this one before but I'm awfully curious about what happens on the mood for 172 hours. Seems like quite a lot of time for anything to happen. o.O Alas, I have no patience, but a least I can go into this book knowing that I'll need it!

    Fabulous review, Blythe! <33

  2. I agree with Mel, that's catchy in a bad way haha. I think I've read another review of this somewhere else and they were also rather average about it. "And as for 172 Hours being scary, it's scary. Frightening. Horrifying. Downright chilling. Disquieting.
    All of the above. "<-- I love this part of your review. It makes me want to pick it up now. Great review :D

  3. Basically this review makes me want to watch the Blair Witch Project, ha ha.

    Also, I am fricken terrified of space. I put that in my review and I am so pumped to see I am not the only one who finds that ish scary as hell.

    Super review as always, Blythe!

  4. I gave this book 2 stars because the character development was just so flat, and we spend WAY too much time listening to them whine or become stalkers or hate everyone. I want to go to the moon, not become steeped in the anger-woeful tales inside the mind of three spoiled brats. I do wonder if it was a translation thing.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog!