23 February 2012

172 Hours on the Moon; Johan Harstad

172 Hours on the Moon172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an interesting horror story - and one with very little chance of a sequel (I hope!).

NASA, for various reasons, has decided to go back to the moon but they need an excuse and a way to gin up public interest. The excuse is a search for a mineral that would give America the edge in nanotechnology, the public interest angle is that three teens (between the ages of 14-18, of a certain height, in good physical and psychological health) will be chosen as passengers. In reality they're gong back to activate DARLAH 2, a Top Secret lunar base set up in the 1970s.

Mia only wants to play in her punk band, possibly cut an album and go on tour before moving to an artists loft with her band mates; her parents, rather that recognizing that she's nearly an adult treat her the same as they treat her 6-year-old brother and cannot believe she isn't eager to be one of the teens, so they enter her into the contest. Midori is a disaffected Japanese teen who only fits in when she's at Harajuku, spending all her money on items for her outlandish costumes; entering the contest is a way for her to escape and gain fame to spur her move to New York. Antoine has just been dumped by his girlfriend, stalking her by using the telescopes on the Eiffel Tower to peer into her bedroom; the contest is the perfect way for him to change his life (and possibly get her back).

The three join the NASA trained astronauts on the trip, which goes very, very wrong indeed. There's a reason why the moon trips stopped, but the people who were involved were sworn to silence or - like Oleg Himmelfarb - suffering from Alzheimers. Or dead. Mr. Himmelfarb, sitting in his nursing home, has flashes of memories but can't do anything about them.

There are some logic issues with this book (for example, wouldn't NASA have tested the three, or had a cadre of teens from which to ultimately choose, like some reality show?) but the subtle horror will render them unimportant. This is horror like that in Let Me In, with a higher psychological component than most American writers allow for.

ARC provided by publisher.

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