4 out of 4 stars
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Man Mission by Eytan Uliel is an exceptional novel and a beautifully written book. I would award 4 out of 4 stars for the quality of the writing and character development alone. However, there are many other excellent elements to recommend; the topics and chapters flow naturally, the author provides maps of his journey and he keeps a consistent format throughout.
I would recommend this book for any reader (with the exception of small children). For those of us distracted by punctuation and grammar issues, I saw no typos, spelling or grammar errors in my reading, and believe it was professionally edited. For those concerned about profanity, this book contains quite a bit of cursing. The book starts on page 5, and the first two instances of profanity occur on page 6 (one borderline and one obvious profanity), in the same paragraph. For those concerned about erotica, this book should be fine. There were no erotic scenes in the novel. There are several instances where men discuss being aroused or find a woman appealing as well as several scenes in which a group of men are nude in a sauna or a hot spring (no touching involved). Additionally, there is one instance in which the author describes his sex life in positive terms, but none which detail sensual experiences or the act of intercourse.
To explain a little further, Man Mission is the tale of a man we meet in his late twenties, and then follow for the next fifteen years. In this time, he experiences both professional and personal changes, learns to handle the challenges of parenting and how to behave “like a man.” Each year, the character and his friends go on rugged adventures to test their strength. Their intention is to feel like men. Of course, feeling like a man and acting like a man can mean very different things, and we see this in the latter half of each chapter, where the character delves into his personal life and the difficulties with maintaining a long-term, healthy relationship, coming to grips with personal loss, and learning to define “success,” amongst other issues.
Speaking as a young female, Man Mission is a book I would recommend for any gender. The authentic character profiles, fast-paced writing and spellbinding description makes for well-balanced reading. My favorite aspect of the book was the format of Mr. Uliel’s writing. Each chapter begins with two quotes, then a charged excerpt on his newest exploit, before shifting to a reflection on his personal progress for the year. I found that this style kept me engaged when a full focus on just the action or his personal growth would be a bit much.
Now, to be honest, I was put off at times by the attitude of the main character. This is what I liked least about the novel. The banter between him and his friends grows stale, (especially as they age), but contributes to the larger question – that is, what does it mean to be a man? Without this demonstration, it would be difficult to track the character’s development, and my annoyance is more likely a reflection on my impatience with sulky men (e.g.: Harry in The Order of the Phoenix )!
Overall, this was a refreshing read for me, and I tore through this novel. I found the writing to be honest and, if the author annoyed me with the character’s selfish thoughts, it was balance by his persistence and courage.
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