In its heavily illustrated two-pages spreads, complete with boxes and factoids in stars, this is very much a Dorling Kindersley-style book, down to the small coffee table format. The subtitle is ‘Apollo 11 and beyond… the ultimate guide to our nearest neighbour’, and Stewart Ross really does pack in a huge amount of information about the moon in a highly accessible fashion. I would have liked to see more about the future our relationship with the moon – there’s one spread on ‘living on the moon’ but not nearly enough on how we interact with it without manned probes (or on the future of manned landings). I also felt that the entry on ‘Muslim foundations’ seemed like a bit of levered-in political correctness – there really was nothing significant discovered about the moon by medieval Islamic science, which is what this section seems to try to suggest (but then, strangely, can’t find a lot to say).
Overall, then, lots of great material – anything that pulls in moon landings, astronomy, werewolves and moon goddesses can’t be bad – and I wouldn’t hesitate to give it five stars were it not for the bizarre randomness of the two page spreads. First of all there are three types of spread: moon landing, moon facts and moon struck (the last being about the human reaction to the moon), which are randomly interlaced. And even within the different types of spread the chronology is all over the place. It’s as if someone stirred the whole lot up and picked them out with no interest in the contents. I can see what they’re trying to do, to make it a bit different, to come up with a surprise as you turn the page – but for me it doesn’t work. The effect is more confusing than helpful, and it’s particularly difficult to follow the moon landing chronology. Some structure would have made all the difference.
I wouldn’t be put off getting this book: it’s great fun with some excellent content – but it could have been so much better with a bit of thought.
Review by Jo Reed