4 out of 4 stars
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Man Mission by Eytan Uliel is a novel that beautifully explores the intersections between manhood, vulnerability, and adventure.
The author narrates the adventures of four lifetime friends who embark on yearly Man Missions and follows their development from boyhood into manhood. The novel begins when the main character and his friend Sam decide to take a week off from their corporate lawyer jobs and visit New Zealand, where they undertake a challenging hike that inaugurates the beginning of Man Mission. Daniel and Alec will be added to the team as associate sub-probationary members, joining their two other friends on the next fourteen Man Missions. When embarking on their annual adventure, the four men have to abide by a charter that allows for no luxuries or whining, and encourages them to overcome their limits and be fearless.
Man Mission is exquisitely written. Besides being exceptionally edited and devoid of any mistakes, the book vividly captures the beautiful landscapes and exciting adventures that the four characters encounter on their missions. Through the author’s skillful and detailed descriptions, the reader is able to join the men while they sit under a canopy of twinkling stars in New Zealand, marvel at the sight of wild animals on their safari in South Africa, and witness the breathtaking spectacle of the Northern Lights in Iceland.
The aspect of the book that I like the most is character development. Eytan Uliel excellently describes the main character’s growth and the tension he feels as he is torn between his familial and professional responsibilities and his insatiable thirst for adventure and freedom. The author manages to achieve the perfect equilibrium between fast-paced narrative and exploration of the main character’s feelings. The book carefully documents the challenges and events that the protagonist encounters as he navigates adulthood. The narrative is also filled with numerous nuggets of wisdom that the main character draws from the hardships he goes through. I particularly appreciate the author’s exploration of male vulnerability, showing the negative circumstances that the main character finds himself in as a result of suppressing his emotions and hiding his profound sense of unfulfillment from his loved ones.
One more thing that I particularly enjoyed about the book is its humor. The book contains numerous profanities, but I think that they were placed strategically to make the narrative enjoyable, vivid and amusing to read. In fact, on many occasions, I could not help but laugh out loud. Although I did not mind the profanities, I definitely discourage readers who do not appreciate foul language from reading the book.
There was nothing in the book that I particularly disliked. However, if I had to change something in it, I would have added more of Rachel’s perspective to the story, delving into her feelings about staying home with the kids and the sinking relationship with her husband. I would have also loved to read more about the main character’s relationship with his kids.
Considering that Man Mission was professionally edited, excellently written and enjoyable to read, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I warmly recommend this book to readers who are in their twenties, as it speaks volumes about the uncertainties of growing up and having to deal with the challenges of adulthood.
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