Maybe you’ve had a long week and just want to unwind, or you’ve just found yourself the lucky recipient of a ticket to another galaxy and need some entertainment for the flight. Either way, you’ve come to the right post! Here I’ll be reviewing two of my favourite books inspired by outer space.
172 Hours On The Moon
Upon finding I could not find a decent book at the library, I opted to close my eyes and select a random book from a random shelf. Lo and behold, 172 Hours On The Moon fell into my check-out basket and joined me on a family camping trip on which I planned to ditch my phone for a week and read eight books instead!
Let me tell you, I would never recommend reading this book at night while camping in the middle of nowhere because you will never sleep peacefully again. I couldn’t put it down – only because I was scared out of my mind.
The book starts of whimsically: it follows the story of three teenagers from Norway, Japan, and France who have been selected to go on a trip to the moon – NASA’s losing public interest and they decided to launch this campaign to get more press. The kids have their own issues back home but are eager to get blasted off into space.
Then it gets weird.
In the interest of not spoiling it for you, I’ll stop my synopsis there. But if I have piqued your curiosity, I’d definitely encourage you to read this book. If you get nightmares, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
What I liked about this book is you didn’t expect the twist. Often in books, you know what the catch-22 is going to be – it’s either explicitly stated in the blurb, or it’s fairly obvious – so you’re never subject to the suspense of figuring out what is going to go wrong. This novel is the polar opposite: it completely throws you into the deep end. I’d be lying if I said what happens in the book didn’t take me by surprise.
I also found it interesting to read about kids from countries I don’t often hear about in literature. 172 Hours On The Moon was written by Norwegian author Johan Harstad – so I actually read an English translation. I thought it was an interesting perspective to read from – I don’t think I’ve read any other translations or Norwegian works at all. Consider my horizons expanded.
The Loneliest Girl In The Universe
I had been eyeing this book out since I saw it in the bookshop. I spent a good portion of my summer at Indigo – a Canadian book and stationery store – and as I had just moved entire continents, I really related to the title. Books about lonely girls? Sign me up! One fateful shopping spree I finally decided to buy the book – and it’s probably one of the best novels I have ever read.
The book follows Romy Silvers – a teenage girl alone on a spaceship headed to a theoretically habitable planet. She’s alone on the spaceship and we don’t know why in the beginning – but the truth reveals itself as the story goes on. The action begins when Romy finds out she’s not going to be alone in space for much longer: another ship is racing to catch up with her and join her mission. It’s great and she’s excited – the loneliest girl in the universe will finally have company again!
I wouldn’t say “all hell breaks loose” because the book is eerie from the beginning. The story descends into pure mania the way the sun comes up after you accidentally pull an all-nighter; the horror sneaks up on you like a deadline you thought was far, far away.
In the interest of not spoiling the book for you, avid reader, I’ll stop my summary there. Lucky for you: I was so enthralled by The Loneliest Girl In The Universe that as soon as I finished it, I literally regurgitated the entire story to my unsuspecting family. I don’t think I’ve stopped being amazed: it’s definitely one of my favourite books ever written, and the day I stop suggesting people read it is the day I die.
I enjoyed the idea of fanfiction being a universal trait amongst teenage girls. I’m not reading too deep into that theme; it just makes me giggle.
Another thing I especially liked about this book was the opening reference to The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins-Gilman – although in hindsight that should’ve been a clue to how haunting the novel was going to turn out. I read The Yellow Wallpaper for my English Literature AS-Levels and it was my favourite piece of the entire course. Ask any of my classmates: I was totally obsessed with the story; thus it’s not really surprising I’m captivated by The Loneliest Girl In The Universe.
I would really like to dissect this book with close attention to detail: there are so many hidden gems and analogies tucked into this novel. Look out for a free-standing analysis or maybe a richer review in a future space week. For now, snag yourself a copy of either of these two page-turners from my intergalactic library!