172 Hours on the Moon
Goodreads ratings
3.57 / 5

"172 Hours on the Moon" Summary

By Johan Harstad

horror | 368 pages | Published in NaN

Three teenagers are going on the trip of a lifetime. Only one is coming back. It's been more than forty years since NASA sent the first men to the moon, and to grab some much-needed funding and attention, they decide to launch an historic international lottery in which three lucky teenagers can win a week-long trip to moon base DARLAH 2.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

Three teenagers win a trip to the moon but soon discover they are not alone.


"172 Hours on the Moon" is a thrilling young adult science fiction novel written by Johan Harstad. Originally published in Norwegian, it has gained international recognition and captivated readers with its suspenseful and chilling storyline. This book takes readers on a captivating journey to the moon, blending elements of mystery, horror, and science fiction to create a truly unforgettable reading experience. In this summary, we will explore the plot, main characters, key events, themes, and insights of "172 Hours on the Moon."

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in the year 2018, where NASA decides to send three teenagers from different parts of the world on a mission to the moon. This ambitious plan aims to reignite public interest in space exploration. Mia, from Norway; Midori, from Japan; and Antoine, from France, are chosen from thousands of applicants to be the lucky participants in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Once the teenagers arrive on the moon, strange and unsettling events start to occur. They quickly realize that they are not alone and that there is something sinister lurking in the vast lunar landscape. As their mission turns into a fight for survival, they must uncover the truth behind the moon's mysteries before it's too late.

Main Characters

Here are the main characters in "172 Hours on the Moon":

MiaA Norwegian teenager with a passion for space. She is excited to be part of the moon mission but soon finds herself facing unimaginable horrors.
MidoriA Japanese teenager who dreams of becoming an astronaut. She is intelligent and resourceful, using her skills to navigate the challenges on the moon.
AntoineA French teenager who is initially reluctant to join the mission. As the events unfold, he becomes an integral part of the group's survival efforts.

Summary of Different Story Points Over Chapters


The prologue sets the stage for the story, revealing a mysterious event that occurred during a previous moon mission in 1975.

Chapters 1-5

The book introduces the three main characters, Mia, Midori, and Antoine, as they are selected for the moon mission. Readers get to know their backgrounds, motivations, and personal struggles. The teenagers meet each other and begin their training.

Chapters 6-10

The group travels to the moon onboard a spacecraft called the Aries. As they arrive, they encounter strange occurrences, such as unexplained noises and equipment malfunctions. The tension and sense of unease start to build.

Chapters 11-15

Mia, Midori, and Antoine explore the moon's surface and make a shocking discovery. They find evidence of a previous moon mission from 1975, which was kept secret from the public. They also encounter a mysterious presence that seems to be following them.

Chapters 16-20

As the group tries to unravel the mysteries of the moon, their situation becomes increasingly dire. They are plagued by terrifying visions and find themselves facing life-threatening situations. Their communication with Earth is severed, leaving them isolated and desperate for answers.

Chapters 21-25

With time running out and their lives hanging in the balance, Mia, Midori, and Antoine uncover the truth behind the moon's secrets. They must make difficult choices and confront their deepest fears in order to survive.

Main Events

  • The selection of Mia, Midori, and Antoine for the moon mission.
  • The astronauts' arrival on the moon and the strange occurrences that follow.
  • The discovery of the hidden mission from 1975 and the presence of an unknown entity on the moon.
  • The escalating dangers and challenges the group faces as they try to uncover the truth.
  • The ultimate revelation of the moon's secrets and the sacrifices made by the characters.

Themes and Insights

Exploration and Discovery

"172 Hours on the Moon" explores the themes of exploration and discovery. It delves into the human desire to venture into the unknown and the potential dangers that come with it. The book also raises questions about the ethics of keeping secrets and the potential consequences of unearthing hidden truths.

Fear and Isolation

Fear and isolation are prominent themes throughout the story. The characters are faced with unimaginable horrors and find themselves cut off from the outside world. This amplifies their fears and highlights the psychological toll of their situation.

Sacrifice and Survival

The book explores the themes of sacrifice and survival as the characters are forced to make difficult choices to protect themselves and each other. It examines the lengths people are willing to go to in order to survive in extreme circumstances.

Reader's Takeaway

"172 Hours on the Moon" is a gripping and suspenseful novel that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. It combines elements of science fiction, horror, and mystery to create a unique and thrilling reading experience. The book explores themes of exploration, fear, and sacrifice, offering readers a thought-provoking and intense story.


In "172 Hours on the Moon," Johan Harstad delivers a riveting and chilling tale that takes readers on an unforgettable journey to the moon. With its compelling characters, mysterious plot twists, and thought-provoking themes, this book is sure to captivate readers of all ages. Prepare to be immersed in the suspense and horrors that await in the depths of space.

172 Hours on the Moon FAQ

  1. What is '172 Hours on the Moon' about?

    '172 Hours on the Moon' is a science fiction thriller that follows the story of three teenagers who are selected to be part of a secretive space mission to the moon. As they embark on their journey, they uncover dark secrets and face terrifying encounters that threaten their lives.

  2. Who is the author of '172 Hours on the Moon'?

    The author of '172 Hours on the Moon' is Johan Harstad.

  3. Is '172 Hours on the Moon' based on a true story?

    No, '172 Hours on the Moon' is a work of fiction. While it incorporates elements of real-life space exploration, the story itself is not based on true events.

  4. What age group is '172 Hours on the Moon' suitable for?

    '172 Hours on the Moon' is generally recommended for young adult readers aged 14 and above. However, it can also be enjoyed by older readers who appreciate suspenseful science fiction.

  5. Are there any sequels to '172 Hours on the Moon'?

    No, '172 Hours on the Moon' is a standalone novel and does not have any direct sequels. The story is self-contained within the book.

  6. Is '172 Hours on the Moon' a horror novel?

    While '172 Hours on the Moon' contains elements of horror, it is primarily categorized as a science fiction thriller. It combines elements of mystery, suspense, and psychological tension to create a gripping reading experience.

  7. Has '172 Hours on the Moon' won any awards?

    Yes, '172 Hours on the Moon' has received several awards and nominations, including the prestigious Norwegian Brage Prize for Children and Young Adults' Literature.

  8. Can you provide a brief summary of the main characters in '172 Hours on the Moon'?

    The main characters in '172 Hours on the Moon' are Mia, Antoine, and Midori. They are teenagers who are chosen to be part of the lunar mission. Mia is a Norwegian girl struggling with anxiety, Antoine is a French boy with a passion for astronomy, and Midori is a Japanese-American girl with a rebellious spirit.

  9. Is '172 Hours on the Moon' a fast-paced book?

    Yes, '172 Hours on the Moon' is known for its fast-paced and suspenseful narrative. The story keeps readers engaged with its thrilling plot twists and unexpected developments.

  10. What sets '172 Hours on the Moon' apart from other science fiction novels?

    '172 Hours on the Moon' stands out due to its unique blend of science fiction and horror elements. It combines the awe-inspiring backdrop of space exploration with chilling suspense, making it a compelling and memorable read.