4 out of 4 stars
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Man Mission by Eytan Uliel launches readers into a world of exotic traveler adventures intertwined with realistic everyman dilemmas. Four male friends serve as a band of protagonist brothers navigating relatable problems with careers, relationships, and innate drives to be successful. Fifteen annual missions expose the men’s strengths and weaknesses with physical, mental, and emotional challenges. The men, particularly the narrator and lead character, ultimately battle their own fears in a trek to find the ever elusive sense of contentment and satisfaction.
Author Eytan Uliel crafts a well-written and motivational script of men fighting several dichotomous fronts - success and failure, fulfilment and emptiness, love and heartbreak, and perhaps most profoundly, insight and denial. The lead character narrates the majority of his struggles across all of the fronts with strategic author placement of the remaining friends’ struggles alongside or in contrast to the lead. Eytan Uliel exposes each character’s flaws and triumphs as romantic partners, parents, friends, and outdoorsmen. The characters and their missions portray more than manly pursuits for adventure as the men’s experiences reflect an innate desire for all humans to identify and secure connection and accomplishment.
Each chapter of Man Mission begins with a title of the new mission’s location, a map illustrating a cartoon-like version of the terrain and primary physical challenge (such as biking, hiking, or sailing), and two anchoring quotes with secular and religious undertones. Man Mission incites the reader’s curiosity with these small introductory details, which leads the reader to want to learn more about what the characters will see, do, say, and feel with one another and in their different roles at home. Eytan Uliel adeptly crafts each chapter with these introductory features, as well as concluding statistics that anchor the reader in understanding the goals and setbacks of each mission.
Readers, male and female, are able to observe a candid experience of addressing external weaknesses and internal pressure to be “enough.” The lead character poses a question for himself that brings all readers into an empathetic and introspective position when he says, “Why can’t I just be happy with the life I have?” That single question summarizes the intent of human life and each mission’s successive approximation to find happiness. Man Mission motivates readers to place themselves into the lives of each character in order to better understand and overcome fear, greed, pain, and regret.
I rate Man Mission 4 out of 4 stars. A full 4-star rating is warranted given the well-written and creative storyline and the appeal of the book to audiences young and old, man and female, and in different phases of career, family, and relationships. Chapters are designed with elaborative details (maps, introductory quotes, and concluding statistics) that allow the reader to fully visualize the mission, which exceeds most novels. The author presents a well-written, well-edited novel with few instances of appropriately placed strong wording (e.g., curse word, page 121).
Overall, Man Mission is an existential tale of man’s search for meaning and simultaneous yearning for elusive but achievable happiness. Eytan Uliel constructs a realistic view of exotic environments that empower men to grow stronger in their relationships with each other, their families, and most importantly, their sense of self. Man Mission is a must-read story that inspires readers to seek adventure in order to become self-aware.
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