Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Astronaut's Son by Tom Seigel
Published by Woodhall Press on September 1, 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
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On the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing comes a novel in which a Jewish astronaut must reassess his moral compass when forced to confront NASA’s early collaboration with Nazis and the role it may have played in his father’s death.
Jonathan Stein thinks only a bad heart can stop him from reaching the moon. But when he discovers his father may have been murdered to protect an appalling NASA secret, he must decide whether his moral compass still points towards the stars. Days before the Apollo 18 launch in 1974, Jonathan’s father, an Israeli astronaut at NASA, died of an apparent heart attack.
A year before his own launch, in 2005, Jonathan, a typically devout skeptic, becomes captivated by the tale of a mysterious online conspiracy theorist who claims that his father had been killed. Unable to keep long-buried suspicions from resurfacing, he reopens the case, digging into a past that becomes stranger and more compelling the deeper he goes.
To get to the truth, he must confront Dale Lunden, his father’s best friend and the last man on the moon, and his elusive childhood hero Neil Armstrong. When his relentless pursuit of the truth leads to disturbing revelations about the Nazis who worked for NASA, the hardest questions to answer are the ones he must ask himself.
The Astronaut’s Son was inspired by the true story of Nazi scientists and engineers at NASA.
I was excited to be asked to review The Astronaut’s Son. I love science fiction, and mystery, and there’s a movie tie-in with Ryan Gosling! I am really curious to see if the book and movie share their plot or if the movie deviates.
The main character, Jonathon, is a Jewish man who is going to be an astronaut on the new round of space missions to the moon. His father, Avi, was scheduled to be on the very first mission which had Neil Armstrong, but died shortly before the mission of a heart attack.
There is not a focus on his upcoming mission and preparation. Jonathon is mired in the past. He has written for the past roughly 20 years to Neil Armstrong to find out more about his father’s death. I guess it is odd with all their training, a man in his maybe 30s would have a heart attack. Jonathon reads websites on-line with various theories; he also tries to talk to his father’s friend Dale Lunden, who ends up on the mission instead of his father.
Jonathon does find out some things people did and probably would prefer to keep quiet. But the process of his delving into the past was not fast paced enough for me. In his quest, he also cheats on his pregnant wife. And he learns his mother cheated on his father.
Jonathon does bring forward an issue his father wanted uncovered about Nazis in the NASA program. He also has a mission role similar to what his father would have done. The original issue of whether his father’s death is natural is not really resolved. I didn’t really like Jonathon’s character very much personally. With little content about the actual space missions, it was not what I expected, but an interesting look at other aspects of the space program.
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2018 New Release Challenge