4 out of 4 stars
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Man Mission by Eytan Uliel is an enchanting book about the adventures of four friends from Australia who take a yearly journey to various locations, sometimes close to home and sometimes far away. The unnamed narrator speculates on events transpiring in his own life and the lives of his friends and family while the yearly journey unfolds.
Given the title, I was somewhat worried that Man Mission would be a bit too “manly” for my tastes. While there are brief interludes where the friends engage in “locker room talk,” these scenarios were not overly obtrusive or offensive. The characters were ordinary and rather likable guys struggling with finding a way to make their lives work. Alec was a bit of a blowhard at times, but even his braggadocio was harmless overall.
I give Man Mission four out of four stars. The book was professionally edited. I did not find any errors in the text. This story delighted me. I found myself cheering the protagonists on. I felt as if I was having a conversation with the narrator and found myself agreeing with some of his fears, such as dying without ever feeling like I’ve accomplished anything of real worth and being faced with the fear that I have wasted my life up until this point. The narrator felt like a friend to me.
The thing that I liked most about Man Mission was the way the story illustrated how prescribed gender and social roles can be harmful not only to a person’s relationships but to their very soul. The narrator feels trapped in an unfulfilling if lucrative job. At one point he states that: “I was behaving like a prostitute for hire, at the beck and call of my corporate pimp.”* This is not an uncommon problem for people working high-power, high-pressure jobs, particularly if one feels as if they are living someone else’s vision for them.
There was really nothing that I disliked about Man Mission. Even the crude “caveman” discussions were low-key. I have had groups of men say worse things in my presence. The characters in this book at least have the common decency to feel embarrassed when called out on their “man talk,” which does happen at one point in the story.
I would recommend Man Mission for readers who enjoy buddy stories and travel to exotic locations. I would not recommend the book to readers who would be offended by profanity or who want a high-octane adventure story involving hypermasculine alpha heroes. The male protagonists in this story are ordinary guys engaging in extraordinary but down-to-earth explorations.
*Uliel, Eytan. Man Mission: Four Men, Fifteen Years, One Epic Journey. Archway Publishing. Kindle Edition.
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