4 out of 4 stars
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Man Mission by Eytan Uliel is the story of the average man. Sam, Daniel, Alec, and the unnamed main character have completely normal lives: they hold down jobs, have relationships, start families, and try to survive day-to-day minutiae. But one week a year these four men put all that aside for the thrill of Man Mission. This trip allows the men to escape their mundane (and often soul-crushing) lives and experience the food, culture, and beautiful environments that make up some of the most exotic places on the planet. New Zealand, Peru, Iceland, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hawaii are just a handful of some of the wonderous places these men get to explore on their adventures. Along the way they’ll learn a bit about the world around them, and a lot more about themselves.
When I began this book I expected a simple story about some guys who go vacationing and have fun adventures. I was absolutely wrong. Man Mission far surpassed my expectations and truly made me think about what it was to be a man. Should you stick to your career path, or seek out a job with more money? Will people think you're weak if you talk about your feelings? Should you tell your wife you don’t love her anymore? All these problems were discussed and explained in a calm and neutral way. I didn’t feel, at any moment, that Uliel was attempting to force his opinions on me. I simply felt he understood things and wanted to share his knowledge.
While the book may be called Man Mission, I believe that it’s perfect for both men and women. It may even be better for woman as it would aid them in further understanding the mysterious (and idiotic) way that men think. Anyone who has an interest in reading about exotic locations would definitely enjoy all the culture, cuisine, landmarks, and dangers that the men in the book get to experience. While I’m certain some people wouldn’t find this book appealing, I can’t think of any group specifically. Therefore, I recommend it to everyone!
Creating original, relatable, and interesting characters is no easy feat, but Uliel seemingly pulls it off with ease. Sam, Daniel, Alec, and the main character are unique to each other, but similar enough that you can understand why they’re such great friends. Sam comes off as the kind of guy who would give you a hard time if you complained, but would always be there for you when the going gets tough. Daniel may seem like the most organized and put-together person on the planet, but on the inside he’s coming apart at the seams. Alec presents himself like the most macho man of the group, but he’s subject to the whims of his woman just like any other man. Our protagonist is such a deep and intriguing character that I never even realized he didn’t have a name until I began writing this review. The people these men meet during their adventures leave lasting impressions not only on the characters, but on the readers as well. Each of them could easily have had their own story, but I digress.
The half of the story that takes place on the missions gives us a look into the relationship between the four men. By pushing themselves beyond their normal limits, Sam, Daniel, Alec, and the protagonist are clearly showing that they don’t feel adequately manly enough in their home lives. By pushing themselves, trying new things, and doing things normally only professionals could do, the men attempt to prove to their friends, and to themselves, just how manly they can be. Without these trips the men would simply be wasting away in what they see as no-purpose jobs. The missions give them a renewed sense of purpose and drive through the medium of friendship and bravado.
While not being nearly as exotic, the half of the story that takes place at home is just as important and enticing. By allowing us to see the home life that our protagonist experiences, we can understand his actions and emotions during the missions. As we watch his smooth progression of life, love, and family, we get to establish a firm connection to the character in a way that makes us truly care about him. While we only get short glimpses into the lives of the other three men, we get just enough to understand the differences and similarities in their situations and how each of them handles them. As the story goes on, and as the home lives start to get muddled, complex, and strained, we can only sit on the sidelines and watch it all blow by.
Have you ever read a book that you didn’t want to end? If you haven’t, then I truly hope you find that book. If you have, you’ll understand then why I was so sad to put this book away. Man Mission deserves no less than 4 out of 4 stars. Even if there was something negative about this book (which in my opinion there isn’t), it would need to be significant to bring down the score. If your life seems to be going through a whirlwind, if you don’t know who to talk to about all your problems, or if you’re just looking for a good book, then pick up Man Mission by Eytan Uliel. I really think it could help.
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