Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sex on the Moon Review

Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich

(from the back of the book)
Thad Roberts, a fellow in a prestigious NASA program, had an idea – a romantic, albeit crazy, idea.  He wanted to give his girlfriend the moon.  Literally.
Thad convinced his girlfriend and another female accomplice, both NASA fellows, to break into an impenetrable laboratory at NASA – past security checkpoints, an electronically locked door with cipher security codes, and camera-lined hallways – and help him steal the most precious objects in the world: the moon rocks.
But what does one do with items so valuable that they’re illegal even to own?  And was Thad Roberts – undeniably gifted, picked for one of the most competitive scientific posts imaginable, a possible astronaut – really what he seemed?
Based on meticulous research into thousands of pages of court records, FBI transcripts, NASA documents, and interviews with most of the participants in the crime, Mezrich – with his signature high-velocity swagger – has reconstructed the madcap story of genius, love,  and duplicity, all centered around a heist that reads like a Hollywood thrill ride.

It’s an interesting story but…I was left a little puzzled.  Not about how they pulled off the heist.  But about Thad Roberts.  I wanted to like this guy, but I didn’t.  And if I couldn’t like him I wanted to at least understand him, but I didn’t.  His backstory about his hard life growing up and how he overcame everything to get a job at NASA was inspiring but made what he did even harder for me to understand.  His motives remain murky.  The book did try to explain them but I was left at a loss as to how he made the jump from dedicated employee to thief.  I don’t know if you were supposed to feel sorry for Thad or not.  But I was left unmoved.  I wanted him to get caught for thinking he could get away with it, for throwing away all that he had worked for and that other people would die to have, for not thinking about who would be hurt by his actions.  I found the idea of the crime interesting and it does read like a crime thriller.  It manages to have a certain sense of suspense even though you know what is going to happen.   I also liked that you got an inside look at NASA to some extent.   But I found myself frustrated at the characters here so at times reading this book was almost aggravating.  I wanted to shout at these people and often found myself more interested in the secondary characters than I was in Thad.  I like Mezrich’s writing, I just wish I liked the story better.  But this being non-fiction I really can’t blame Mezrich for the actions of the characters.  It reads quickly and is interesting in parts so it is worth reading if you are interested in true crime stories but I don’t think it is something that will stick with you too long after you finish reading the book.