Houston, We Have A Problem

Thursday, April 5, 2012

When I was seven, I wrote an essay about my future occupation. I should actually call it an essay of my future occupations, because I was indecisive about a teacher and an astronaut. Years later, the idea of becoming an astronaut lost all its glamour and intrigue, but space still fascinated me.

I had the chance to read and review 172 Hours on the Moon, and I jumped on it. The book is about three teenagers who won a NASA contest that offered three teens to spend 172 hours on the moon. One of the characters was Japanese, and suddenly the book become more interesting. Asian characters almost never appear in mainstream novels, an when they do, they're usually portrayed as an underdeveloped, nerdy character.

172 Hours is the transltaed English version of DARLAH: 172 timer på månen, which won the 2008 Brage Award, an award awarded by the Norwegian Book Prize foundation (according to Wikipedia). I had high hopes for it, I really did. However, I was disappointed. 

Midori, the Japanese character, was so, so critical of Japanese society. The Japanese society has been featured in the new in the past ear due to the Tohoku earthquake. The Japanese has been praised for its resilience and solidarity in the face of such a catastrophe. Yet, the Japan in 172 Hours seemed like another world. The boys in Midori's class would, "end up as salary men, wearing a suit, just pushing papers from nine to five, before falling asleep, exhausted, on the train home to their bitter wives." The girls "would sit there wishing they were somewhere totally different, living a totally different life." Sure, Japan may be homogeneous at time, but in no way is Japan that restrictive or boring. The Japan portrayed in 172 Hours was in the eyes of a cynical, angsty teenager, however, I couldn't help but wonder if the mask of the teenager was slipping away to the author's own opinions. It made me, a non-Japanese feel uncomfortable.

Antoine, the French teenager was well, a little stereotypical. It just so happens that Antoine is love-sick. He wants to do anyhting to get away from his ex-girlfriend. It just so happens that Antoine is from the country of romance, France. 

It wasn't even the characters that made me uncomfortable. The story had a And Then There Were None vibe going on, except that the vibe wasn't as interesting as the Agatha Christie novel. Sure, the novel was scary, no doubt about it. However, there were times I was like, "Get on with it, already." The ending of the novel is a complete 360, following the And Then There Were None vibe. The events leading up to the end were odd. Some things don't add up.

I wish I could say that this book was great and I loved it. But I didn't. I guess I'm going to have to wait 172 hours until I find another book.


P.S It takes more than 172 hours for me to find a book. However, I just said that so it would sound more cohesive. 

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