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Editorial Reviews

You know who Ben Mezrich is—you just don’t know that you know it. Sex on the Moon is his fifth work of non-fiction in the past 10 years, and the story captured here is easily as memorable as the others. Previously, Mezrich has detailed the famous gang of MIT whiz kids who cheated Las Vegas out of millions of dollars, the shady securities traders who squeezed millions out of the Asian markets, the second set of MIT students to beat Vegas odds, and the version of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook founding that ultimately won three Academy Awards for The Social Network. This time, our anti-hero is Thad Roberts, an ex-Mormon geology student with dreams of becoming an astronaut. But he can’t get to the moon, so he brings the moon home with him. Literally — he gets a job at NASA and spends years planning out how to steal a small collection of authentic moon rocks that are a priceless part of American history.

Despite the end results of extensive jail time and public ignominy, for 90 percent of this story, Thad is a very sympathetic character. He no doubt owes a debt of gratitude to narrator Casey Affleck, whose gentle rasp and easy-going vibe enable listeners to get smoothly swept up in Thad’s ridiculous ideas. Affleck has the advantage of Mezrich's extensive research, as much of the dialogue in the book is verbatim from FBI files or court transcripts. All Affleck has to do is act the part, and he does so with utter believability. Thad’s quest for social acceptance and true love is delivered with such amusing tenderness that Affleck at times elevates this unconventional heist story to real poetry through the almost musical cadence in his voice work. He is a terrific complement to Ben Mezrich's writing, and one must of course speculate on whether Affleck will play Thad Roberts when this weird little true crime story is inevitably adapted for film. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

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 interns, to break into an impregnable 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 an item so valuable that it’s 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?

Mezrich has pored over thousands of pages of court records, FBI transcripts, and NASA documents and has interviewed most of the participants in the crime to reconstruct this Ocean’s Eleven–style heist, a madcap story of genius, love, and duplicity that reads like a Hollywood thrill ride.

©2011 Ben Mezrich (P)2011 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Movie-worthy treatment to the guy who stole moon rocks from NASA" (The New York Daily News)
"An in-depth look at Thad Roberts, who along with three other NASA interns, stole pieces of lunar rock to impress his girlfriend. Mezrich has done extensive research to recreate the story of how an aspiring astronaut ended up getting caught for stealing over 100 pieces of the moon." (The Atlantic Monthly)
"Mezrich has uncovered another high-stakes, fascinating true story....part love story, part madcap caper, part astro-geekery, the book is one of the summer's most fun reads." (NPR)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Diane
  • United States
  • 02-25-12

A 'Page-Turner'

This is a fun suspense-thriller made more interesting because it's non-fiction. Before buying the book I read several reviews critical of the narration. While I don't disagree with these reviewers, I saw the narrator in a different light and, with the exception of perhaps two short moments, I thoroughly enjoyed his telling of the story. The narrator sounds a bit like Bill Clinton (in tone and accent) and I imagined that Thad (the "hero"), given his personality, spoke like that, too. So, in a way, even though the story was narrated from the third person, I could imagine that it was Thad telling the story. All-in-all, it was an interesting and absorbing listening experience and I highly recommend the book (although you may want to sample the narration first).

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • WEST RICHLAND, WA, United States
  • 08-04-11

Don't let the narrator ruin it for you

Very interesting story. Unfortunately, I'll have to think twice before purchasing anything else narrated by Affleck.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Good book, horrible narration

This story is very interesting and well written; if I were reading the book it would get a higher rating. But this is the most awful narration I've heard in a long time. He sounds constantly bored by the material and annoyed at having to do this. It really detracts from the book. Too bad - this is an interesting story!

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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DO NOT BUY - WORST OF STORE

I wish i could get my credit back or a refund or something because this is a terrible book and necessarily a worse audiobook.

After liking Mr. Mezrich's take on the MIT Math Club in 21 as well as his caricature of Zuckerberg in his facebook profile I thought I'd give his latest a try. This was a mistake.

I am no literary critic nor do I hold advance degrees in English or the like but I do have a college degree which I think entitles me to say this: THIS IS TERRIBLE WRITING. It is boring, overly flourished in places with details that do not benefit nor add to the story and often times detract from the narrative because the reader gets lost thinking...wtf. Terrible writing aside it wouldn't be much even is the writing was on the Pynchon level. ITS A BORING STORY in book for...it would be a great story for The New Yorker written of course by one of their staff writers.

I feel I've trashed the book more than I should have above so I'll move over to Casey Affleck's narrative/audiobook artist skills. In short: he has none, stick to acting if thats what you are good at. He is mono tonal, whisperish, slow paced and sounds completely disinterested in the story. He might as well have been reading pages from the United States Code. I had to listen to much of the book on 2x speed - Mr. Affleck put so much space between each word and sentence that it made the book sound like it was intended for people whose first language was not english or perhaps an ESL class.

DON'T WASTE YOUR CREDIT....please

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 07-20-11

not much sex, but a lot of moon

Another well crafted, non-fiction story about one misguided young man. Narration is so-so, but doesn't detract from the hilarity of it all.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating character

What about Casey Affleck’s performance did you like?

He brings the scenes to life. Feels like watching a movie with Thad played by Casey Affleck (in his Bob Ford days). It’s a role right up his alley.

Any additional comments?

At first, learning about Thad’s achievements after he decided to become a astronaut, I thought this is like the back story of Mark Watney! I was filled with dread as I listened on, wondering what happened that derailed him from his path to become Mark Watney. In the end I’m still not sure, but it’s a fascinating journey.

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  • Lindsey
  • Portland, OR, United States
  • 08-25-13

Terrible writing, terrible story

Any additional comments?

The NYT's review of this book was very accurate. Cheesy descriptions that read like a first time author, every woman in the book described overtly sexually and without substance, etc etc etc. I wish I'd looked into this more before I bought it because I could not even finish this book.

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  • Larry
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 03-12-13

Insider NASA Tale

Would you consider the audio edition of Sex on the Moon to be better than the print version?

Yes, the planning of and the execution of the heist was exciting to listen to. It was like being there in real time.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Sex on the Moon?

My heart was really thumping on the night they went after the moon rocks.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Casey Affleck?

Yes, if the story was this good.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Fly Me To The Moon would definitely have to be in the soundtrack.

Any additional comments?

Intriguing behind the scene peek at Johnson Space Center.

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Good listening

Would you consider the audio edition of Sex on the Moon to be better than the print version?

Yes, i'm driving all the time

What other book might you compare Sex on the Moon to and why?

Flawless, is also a big heist

Which scene was your favorite?

The actual heist at 31 building

If you could give Sex on the Moon a new subtitle, what would it be?

A text on Love and dreams

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Entertaining but not "WOW"

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

If you have the capability, listen at double speed. I read a lot of the comments before downloading and was hesitant. I felt like Casey Affleck's pace was too slow to keep me interested long enough. At double speed (on iPhone it is faster but not pitched higher) I hardly noticed it was double speed.

If you’ve listened to books by Ben Mezrich before, how does this one compare?

Again, at double speed, it was better than not. However, I remember enjoying Bringing Down the House a bit more.

What three words best describe Casey Affleck’s performance?

Pace too slow.

Did Sex on the Moon inspire you to do anything?

Remind me to keep a close eye on my college-bound son.

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