4 out of 4 stars
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Man Mission is about the lives and adventures of four Australian men. The story begins when they are in Law School. Three of them have known each other since Grammar School. The narrator meets their fourth friend, Sam when he accompanies him to a food fair. As they get to know one another, he reveals his eager desire to travel to an exotic location each year, sampling different types of local food. Sam agrees this is a great idea and proposes that they also add an outdoor activity to the trip. Three years later, the two undertake their maiden trip, hiking in New Zealand.
On the trip, they agree to form a Man Mission Committee and invite their two other friends, Daniel, and Alec to join them on their exotic adventures. They also set up a Charter with specific rules, regulations, and traditions to guide the missions. It stipulates the criteria for the specific type of adventures that qualify for missions.
Over a period of fifteen years, the four friends go on different activities like hiking, kayaking, biking, and ice climbing. They go to a couple of interesting places in Australia. They also go to locations in New Zealand, Japan, Fiji, Spain, Thailand, South Korea, South Africa, Vietnam, USA, Taiwan, Peru, and Iceland. Before they embark on an adventure, they seek approval from the Wives’ Committee. In addition to the adventures, we follow the men's stories as they make life-changing decisions in their lives and careers and go through different experiences with their families.
The characters are likable and well developed. They complement one another perfectly as they take on different roles during the missions. The book is filled with humor and light-hearted banter amidst displays of male bravado. It is a touching story of great male friendships. The four are there for one another during happy times; they are supportive in hard times and do not hesitate to laugh at one another in embarrassing moments. I loved the light-handed way in which they dealt with each others’ misfortunes whilst on the adventures. Their jocular behavior is refreshing, and the genuine love they have for one another easily comes out in the stories.
The novel flows so well that I could vividly see the picturesque places they visited. The author, Eytan Uliel, is a Travel Blogger and this valuable skill is apparent from the delightful way in which he lays out the magnificent scenery and surroundings. I found the book very insightful and enjoyed learning about the various activities and places through the firsthand experiences of the four characters. They teach us about the practical importance of preparedness and proper planning when embarking on such missions. We also learn the importance of endurance and how to properly handle unexpected situations.
What I liked most was that each chapter opens with inspirational quotes and at the end, we get to see injuries sustained and lessons learned. At times, these are about the trip itself but other times, they are about the lives of the characters. The two are so perfectly intertwined that it all ties in together beautifully. I found the book very well written and edited. It is interesting and held my attention to the very end. It gets a well deserved 4 out of 4 due to this. There is nothing I disliked about the book. I would recommend it to anyone who loves outdoor adventure and humorous stories about male relationships.
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