4 out of 4 stars
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Lace up your hiking boots and buy yourself some fancy bike pedals. Prepare to travel from Point A to Point B under your own power. No whining unless you want to wear the pink bracelet. Man Mission by Eytan Uliel is an entertaining, yet thoughtful story of four college friends and their annual trip which they’ve dubbed Man Mission. The trips are generally strenuous, pushing the physical abilities of these weekend warriors. Each trip seems to involve some type of injury, whether it’s physical, or simply wounded pride.
We follow four friends, across several continents, in a decade and a half of adventurous ups and downs, both in life, and on their trips. Each year they visit a scenic locale and travel from Point A to Point B, often hiking a trail, kayaking down a river, or biking from one city to another. This was my favorite thing about the book, reading about the beautiful, exciting places they visited.
In addition to all the manly adventuring, the author provides a glimpse into the real day to day lives of each of the characters over the course of time. In particular, you get to follow the life of the narrator, Mike, through his marriage, career, kids, and ultimately an affair and a divorce. I did like that the author included a peek into the real lives of his characters in between their annual trips, but I felt like 15 years of life was too much to fit in. This was actually one of the things that I disliked the most. I would have liked more time given to Mike’s life in between Man Missions. It seemed that Mike was on top of the world one minute and fell into utter hopelessness and unhappiness very quickly. Unfortunately, I don’t think this would be practical without turning the book into an extraordinarily long work.
Overall, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The book was exceptionally well-edited; I didn’t notice a single typo or other error while reading. It was humorous and entertaining yet it had substance to it.
I think this book would be enjoyed by a broad range of people. However, it would probably have a particular appeal to those who enjoy tales of adventure laced with humor. I was reminded of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson while reading, particularly in the theme of marginally prepared men versus nature who manage to persevere with their sense of humor more or less intact.
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