4 out of 4 stars
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Man Mission by Etyan Uliel is an adventure. It is described as an epic journey of four friends over fifteen years, but the book is much more than that. Throughout the journey to different parts of the planet, these young friends find their way through life together. They marry, have children, and grow as individuals while still maintaining and valuing each other’s friendship.
One of my favorite things about this book is the writing style that wraps so much of the tale in humor. Even the “Man Mission Charter” is humorous, and I found myself grinning while reading the list of mission rules. “Bathing Optional, Chafing Obligatory, Whining Tolerated...” A book that can make readers smile while telling a meaningful story is a literary achievement. This book hits both of those marks.
I liked the maps with the drawings of hikers, canoes, bowls of noodles, giraffes, animals, killer whales, and sailboats, etc., located at the beginning of each section. It enhanced the adventurous feel of the beginning of each journey. I also enjoyed the summary at the end of each trip that gave a brief overview and catalog of gains and losses, all of which were usually written tongue-in-cheek.
The character development in this story was superb. I felt like I knew each character personally by the end of the book. Some places caused me to laugh out loud, which is rough when you’re supposed to be reading quietly at midnight while everyone else in the house is asleep. One of those locations is where Sam and Eytan miraculously find a hotel after a grueling day of biking halfway up Mount Fuji by mistake, “A revolving glass door led into the marbled main lobby. Sam and I strutted in, taking wide steps like cowboys on account of the chafing...”
The concept of this book reminded me of the movie Cityslickers with Billy Crystal, which featured a small group of lifelong friends that took a trip once a year that led them into life-changing, poignant, and at times hilarious adventures. People who liked that movie will no doubt enjoy this book!
Even though there is a prevailing element of humor throughout, I find that this book is very thoughtfully written, and I appreciated that the author revealed such deep, private inner thoughts so frequently throughout the story. That is what I liked most about this book. There will be many readers that identify with the personal difficulties described herein. It is also very well-edited. The only mistake I found was a missed comma. For these reasons, I am rating it with 4 out of 4 stars.
In the end, I found nothing to dislike about this book. I will say that in spite of the hilarity of much of this tale, it is frequently interspersed with bad language (the f-bomb) and not suitable for any but the most mature audience. If you are sensitive to profanity, this may not be the book for you. It is also very sexually explicit and is not suitable for younger readers. I feel it will appeal the most to readers who like stories that focus on the personal accomplishments of the unique individual.
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