4 out of 4 stars
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A story of friendship, adventure, accomplishment and struggle is told by the anonymous narrator of Man Mission by Eytan Uliel. The book spans 15 years recounting the lives and annual adventure trips of four close friends. Each year is separated into chapters, so the characters grow and mature over the course of the book as they navigate through life.
The reader is quickly immersed into the yearly travel ritual, which they give the title of “Man Mission”. Every year the four men travel to a new locale to experience the culture and engage in rugged physical activity such as - kayaking, hiking, cycling, sailing and ice climbing. The narrator’s description brings the reader along for the journey. Once a year the friends travel for a week to places such as - New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, South Korea and Iceland. These sections detailing the group’s adventures and experiences are what I liked most about the book. Through maps and superb descriptions, the landscape is brought to life for the reader.
Interspersed throughout each chapter we learn about the personal lives of the men as they mature, get jobs, get married and have children. They support one another, both mentally and physically. Eytan Uliel did a great job of illustrating the dynamics of friendship and family. Repercussions from decisions, whether they are big or small, are effectively detailed. Each character matures at their own pace, but the bond of friendship remains a constant, even while at different stages in their lives.
As mentioned, the narrator did not give his name. I kept waiting to find out what his name was, but after a few of chapters I realized that wasn’t likely to happen. I didn’t find that it detracted from the story by not knowing his name, but this is what I liked least about the book. Since everyone else was named, I didn’t understand the reasoning for the narrator to be nameless.
I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. It was enjoyable from start to finish. I would recommend this book to any reader that enjoys fiction about travel and adventure combined with the struggles of becoming an adult. There is some profanity, but I think the book would be interesting to a Young Adult reader as well. The story is written from a male character’s point of view, nonetheless I found it entertaining and relatable as a female reader. The passages regarding depression, camaraderie and the impact of decisions made will resonate regardless of gender.
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