Ellie’s Letter Essay #2: 172 Hours on the Moon

Almost a week ago, I finished reading 172 hours on the moon. This book is a 368 page science fiction/mystery novel by Johan Harstad. Johan Harstad was born in Norway, just like one of his characters in the novel. Johan Harstad is also the winner of the 2008 Brage Award. The Brage Award is a Norwegian literature prize that is awarded annually by the Norwegian Book Prize Foundation. This prize was awarded as said before in 2008, the same year 172 hours on the moon was published. The English version of this book was actually published in 2012 for Americans and 2008 is when 172 hours on the moon  was published in Norway. Another fun fact about the book is it was a 2013 YASLA Teens Top Ten book nominee. YASLA stands for Young Adult Library Services Association. Another really interesting fact about the book is that it includes real life facts, for example the author included the code 6EQUJ5, which is a mysterious code dating back to, 1977. This signal appeared on the Big Ear Radio, located in Ohio. The Big Ear Radio detects signals from the moon, abruptly this new code appeared on the screen unlike the regular signals that pop up on the screen. I read this book mainly because, I was in the bookstore seeking a interesting book to keep me occupied throughout a 4 hour long car trip to Vermont. I read a little on the way back from the bookstore and I had to force myself to stop reading as I was already almost ¼ done with the book, before the trip even began. I was so interested and shocked by the events happening in the book, so on the ride to Vermont I continually kept telling my mom all about the novel. Because I take a extremely long time explaining events to people, I ended up reading the rest of the book to my mom on the ride home from Vermont. Because after we reached our cabin in Vermont, I did not let myself read any more than 20 pages that night. From my standpoint I can definitely vouch that this was one of the best books I have ever read, especially because I finished it in two days.  

           In the novel, 172 Hours On The Moon, the narrator creates an huge occasion where it’s been decades since man set foot on the moon and NASA is holding a random lottery to bring three ordinary teenagers from all around the world to the moon, of course along with certified astronauts,. That’s right, the moon. These three teenagers are from all different places, Norway, Japan, and France. Their names are Midori, from Japan, Mia, from Norway, and Antoine, from France. These teenagers perceive this as a major key for several more opportunities in life. They all believe this will be a huge benefit for them in their regular lives at home. Mia hopes this will be her punk band’s ticket to fame and fortune. Midori, believes it’s her way out of a restrained life. And, Antoine, just wants to get away from his ex-girlfriend as much as he can. The teenagers have several various personalities, which leads to many different ways of training and different relationships between the characters. All of the teenagers unexpectedly have unexplained nightmares the night before the day they head to the U.S.A to begin training. The teenagers think nothing of their situations and head to the United States. Everything is perfect, they are with their families heading off to the moon and slowly, but surely getting through their enormous amount of training.

They have moderate expectations for their arrival at the moon and it was definitely exceeded when they arrive. The home base they would be staying at is very nice, especially for on the moon. I was obviously very surprised when the base on the moon did not require space suits or helmets to be worn. The stay is lovely and they can not wait for the other upcoming, thrilling adventures! All is well with everybody including the staff, but suddenly someone or something ruins the trip.

           I really liked the way the author produced the characters personalities to be. In the climax of the story for example, the character, Mia, forwards herself as a brave, strong girl. But really she has a kind, loving heart she hides in the darkness, “several people they passed gave them weird looks, wondering if this disheveled homeless man was bothering her (pg.102).” What Mia is displaying is a character trait, many don’t present, kindness. The author really creates Mia and the rest of his characters to be unique.


       Something, I would have done differently if I were the author who wrote the story was, I would have made it more clear to the reader, how all of these different speaking characters were able to understand each other, even though they are all from different parts of the world. Johan Harstad made a lot of the novel a confusing blur because once all of the teenagers and astronauts meet the teens all of a sudden begin to talk in English even though they speak their native languages with their families and before they arrived and also, they did not discuss anywhere in the story that they knew how to speak any English. I most likely would have wrote that the teenagers would learn simple English words during their training courses in NASA. Throughout the story this was one of my main issues, I am disappointed the author didn’t make more clear or elaborate on.

         Finally, I was interested in this passage, when the teens have arrived on the moon and are exploring the ancient home base, Darlah 2.  Johan Harstad writes:

         “The tension and anticipation was thick in the air as they walked through the base for the very first time. Every ten yards or so they encountered a new steel hatch that Caitlin would activate by pressing the button on the wall next to it. They could hear the hydraulic pumps that opened the hatches with a pyiffff sound, letting them into the next room.

“Everything in here is absolutely prehistoric,” Midori complained as they made their way to the next safety hatch(pg. 178).”

              What I really love and find amusing about this section of this passage is that it shows the humorous and stubborn side of the characters, as they are finally on the moon and their reactions to the base are unexpected, for something as eventful as being on the moon.  Much of the book surrounds the characters unusual emotions, which makes it a very abrupt book with miniscule surprises from each of the characters. I am so glad I took a chance on this book, even though I usually am not interested in science fiction. 172 Hours On The Moon is a 9.5/10 for me which is a very high standard to reach, as I very meticulous. I look forward to reading this book again and recommending this book to others.


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8 thoughts on “Ellie’s Letter Essay #2: 172 Hours on the Moon

  1. Dear Ellie,
    I thought your letter essay was very well written and had everything it needed! I have never read this book before, but it really seemed interesting to me and would love to read it. I liked after you quoted sentences from the novel, you would cite what page you got it from! I also liked the paragraph about the way the author produced the characters personalities to be!! That was very well written and good! Overall, I think this is one of the best letter essays I’ve read and good job!

  2. Dear Ellie,
    I really enjoyed reading your letter essay and it looks like a great book. I especially liked your summary because you told us enough about the book so we could see what the book is about without giving away the ending.

  3. Dear Ellie,
    Your L-E fit all of the requirements, and I could tell that you put a lot of effort into it. The passage that you quoted really did show author’s craft. I loved it.

  4. Dear Ellie,
    I really liked how you described what you liked about the book. You wrote everything with detail and I could tell that you put a lot of effort into this. Good job!

  5. Dear Ellie,

    I experienced great delectation while reading your letter essay. It was very well written and included everything we are required to have. I also liked how you put in a lot of background knowledge into the first paragraph. It showed interesting aspects of the book, while displaying all of the hard work you put into your letter essay. I also liked reading the paragraph that explained what you think the author didn’t do correctly. It was an interesting take on explaining the story, summing up why there is know reason to change anything in your letter essay; it was done very well.


  6. Dear Ellie,
    You did a really good job on your letter essay. I have never read this book but it seems very good. I really liked how much information you put in about the author and how many awards that the author has won. I also really liked your summary. You did a really good job summarizing the book without giving away the ending. You followed all the requirements. I really like the way you responded to the three questions. Something I really liked was how you used background knowledge in the first paragraph.
    Claire Kocis

  7. Your letter essay was very good! I really liked the part where you talked about the code and how it dates back to 1977. My only suggestion is that you could have done a little more to explain why you thought the code was used. This would have added to your knowledge of the book. Really well done.


  8. Dear Ellie,

    I am definitely going to read this book now that I have read your letter essay. I like how you put so much thought into your summary, which is important for someone who has never read that said book. I also like how you explained how you discovered the book and elaborated instead of just saying, “I bought the book and read it.” I found it interesting how you explained what you would have changed if you were the author, because that would be something I probably wouldn’t think about while reading 172 Hours on the Moon, is how they communicated if they supposedly didn’t speak english. Good job on your letter essay! I can’t wait to read 172 Hours on the Moon.


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