In the chapters before the launch, Harstad gives indications that the mission won't go as smoothly as planned. Something spooky happened on the last mission, scary enough to keep NASA away from the moon for a few decades. Unfortunately, the book does not follow through on the promised suspense. First of all, this is supposed to be a book about scary stuff happening on the moon, but the characters don't even leave earth until half way through the book. Harstad used too many pages trying to set the scene and build up the characters and he wasn't even successful doing that. None of the teens are particularly sympathetic and the adults are completely unrealistic.
Flat characters would be fine if the suspense and action were able to carry the day. But that just didn't happen in this case. Even after they reached the moon and some freaky stuff started happening, there was just too little action. The events that did occur were generally unrealistic or insufficiently depicted. Overall, 172 Hours on the Moon is just a poorly written book. It seemed to me more like 172 Years Reading This Book. If it weren't for the fact that I was planning to review this book for the blog, I would have stopped long before the liftoff!