Title: Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History
Author: Ben Mezrich
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Genre: Non-Fiction, Space/NASA
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thad Roberts was an insecure ex-Mormon whose parents had disowned him. He married young, and his life didn’t seem to be taking him where he wanted to go. He decided to change all that by going to school and eventually applying to NASA for an internship, hoping to eventually become an astronaut. But his academic, straight-laced life takes a detour when Thad finds the opportunity to steal some genuine moon rocks from NASA.
I enjoyed Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires (which eventually became the movie The Social Network), so I would have read his next book, regardless of what it was about. When I discovered it was about NASA, an organization I love to read about, and the heinous theft of moon rocks, I was immediately captivated.
Mezrich uses his trademark narrative non-fiction style to tell the story, which basically means it reads like fiction. While his stories are extensively researched and are factual (though perhaps biased in some cases), the books are written in such a way that they are very engaging and easy to read. Sex on the Moon went by much more quickly than an average work of non-fiction; it was fascinating and the pages flew by.
Thad Roberts is portrayed as a lost and wandering soul who finally found a home at NASA. He became a leader among his peers and those around him really looked up to him. He made a name for himself with those he worked under and was respected for his work ethic and intelligence. So, then, why in the world would a man who had found a place for himself conspire against the organization that had taken him in and steal priceless objects from them? While the title of the book makes it sound like it was all for a woman, the truth is more complicated than that.
From the beginning, Thad is insecure. He wants people to like him. He wants to be respected. When he walks into a room, he wants people to stare, and then turn to those they’re sitting with and whisper, “Do you know who that is?!?” It’s this desperate need for attention and acclaim that leads Thad down his self-destructive path. I have a distinct feeling that readers were supposed to pity Thad (and maybe admire him just a little for his audacity), but I would be lying if I said I felt the same. While part of me did feel sorry for him, I mostly just wanted to see him behind bars, and was racing through the book to see if he eventually got his due.
I enjoyed Sex on the Moon, though I can’t say Thad Roberts really appealed to me. The story was solid, and the behind-the-scenes look at NASA was very interesting. Mezrich did an exceptional job fleshing out the personality of Thad Roberts, especially when it came to his flaws and insecurities, and it was interesting to ponder over him. If your book club reads non-fiction, this would be a great pick, as it reads quickly and there are a lot of moral ambiguities to discuss within its pages.