Review by unamilagra -- Man Mission by Eytan Uliel

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unamilagra
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Review by unamilagra -- Man Mission by Eytan Uliel

Post by unamilagra »

[Following is a volunteer review of "Man Mission" by Eytan Uliel.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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A delightful combination of adventure story and coming of age novel, midlife edition, Man Mission by Eytan Uliel follows four best friends over the course of 15 years. Each year, beginning in their late 20s, they leave their regular lives behind and travel to an exotic location in order to participate in an outdoorsy trip, such as long-distance hiking, biking, or kayaking. Their adventures, which they come to refer to as Man Missions, require that they travel from one point to another entirely under their own power, and push themselves beyond their physical limits. As the years go on, additional, sometimes hilarious, new rules are added to the Man Mission guidelines.

In addition to their adventure travels, the story follows each man over time. The characters get married and start families, explore career paths, and struggle with the pressures that face all men in modern society. We see them make important life decisions, grapple with their feelings, make mistakes, and redeem themselves. Each year’s Man Mission allows them some time and space to reconnect with their friends and take a break from their everyday lives. Every year they return home, sometimes humbled, often injured, but always with new perspectives on their lives and what it means to be a man.

I loved the characters in this story. I admit I was hesitant to read a book about four men, but the perspective given in this novel is extremely refreshing. So often in the media and entertainment industry, men are stereotyped and somewhat caricaturized, from the inept husband and father who can’t survive without his wife, to the chauvinist and his “toxic masculinity,” to the too perfect hero rescuing the damsel in distress. The characters in Man Mission are just regular, decent men, trying to support their families, follow their dreams, and make it through the day. The way the narrator speaks of his frustrations, worries, and successes feels incredibly authentic, and really sheds a light on what it means to be “manly” from a normal man’s perspective.

The story is told from the first-person point of view of an unnamed narrator. The writing style is conversational, to the point where I kept forgetting Man Mission is a work of fiction and not a memoir. It felt as though I was talking with a friend as he regaled me with tales of his adventures. The narrator has a great sense of humor, often self-deprecating, which is both entertaining and endearing.

The book is divided into fifteen chapters, one for each of the different Man Missions. During the course of each chapter, the author shifts back and forth from the events of the current trip to what’s been going on in each of the characters’ day-to-day lives. This type of structure often runs the risk of making the storyline choppy and disjointed, but Mr. Uliel accomplishes the transitions seamlessly.

If the incredible characters and writing structure weren’t enough to make this a great book, add in the fact that the characters travel to fifteen different places all over the world, from South Africa to Peru to Vietnam. The descriptions of the scenery of each place are wonderful, and just enough to allow you to picture the beauty without slowing down the story with excessive imagery. In addition to the scenery, each chapter provides insight into the local cultures of the area in a respectful way. The characters of the book are always happy to dive headfirst into participating in the local traditions, and show appreciation for local customs, no matter how different they are from their own. They watch a Spanish bullfight in awe, participate in traditional kava ceremonies in small villages in Fiji, and enthusiastically dine on boiled sheep’s head and puffin burgers in Iceland.

I don’t know what more I could ask from a book. I laughed at the characters’ mishaps, cried with them in their sorrows, teared up at their touching moments, and stopped to ponder their philosophical musings. The book was clearly professionally edited, as I didn’t note a single error in the entire text. If I had to pick something I didn’t like, it would be that the narrator was not named, as I found myself wishing I knew what to call him. However, I do feel like the fact that he was unnamed really helped the conversational tone of the book. I am honored to be able to award this book 4 out of 4 stars. I closed the book with a happy heart and a serious case of wanderlust. I would recommend Man Mission to anyone, male or female, who loves to read about far off places and appreciates realistic, relatable characters.

******
Man Mission
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Post by shereads shereads »

Sounds like a great book. I love to travel and I bet this would give me wanderlust as well.

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Post by gen_g »

I'm glad you enjoyed this book! I love to travel as well, and this book seems to have almost everything: plot development and a well-rounded cast. Thanks for the review!

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Post by sarahmarlowe »

Thanks for such a great review! This does sound like a wonderful book! I like that you said the time jumps didn't fracture the story. They can be really helpful in building characters when done well.
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Post by inaramid »

This definitely sounds like a great (fictional) travelogue. I like the premise here and how the characters defy the caricatures of men in media and books. I'd have to look into this more. Thanks for this wonderful review!

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Post by Kibetious »

This is a wonderful review, one of the nicest that I have read today. Thanks for describing so well that I just feel like that it should be the next on my reading list. Great to see that the four men are described as ordinary people hence making them relatable. I would love to read this.
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Post by sarahmarlowe »

Thanks for such a thorough review! Your love for the book came through clearly, and you told us the wonderful reasons we should read it. It sounds like a great book!
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Post by unamilagra »

gen_g wrote: ↑
06 Mar 2019, 21:43
I'm glad you enjoyed this book! I love to travel as well, and this book seems to have almost everything: plot development and a well-rounded cast. Thanks for the review!
Thanks for your comment. If you love travel, I definitely recommend you check this one out!
sarahmarlowe wrote: ↑
07 Mar 2019, 16:30
Thanks for such a great review! This does sound like a wonderful book! I like that you said the time jumps didn't fracture the story. They can be really helpful in building characters when done well.
Yes, time jumps are a risky move, but worth it if you can pull it off. Thanks for reading and commenting!
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Post by Kelyn »

Sounds interesting. I've traveled a bit and the fact that they throw themselves into the local customs sounds like I could learn a bit about each place they traveled. Time jumps are indeed difficult to pull off successfully, but it sounds like the author had no problem with it. Thanks for the review!
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Post by briellejee »

Not really want to read about men, but hey, whatever the gender of the character is as long as it is well-written, I am not one to argue. I liked that you pointed out that other than the incredible characters there is something to look forward as well: their travel to different countries. It seems like the author has an excellent writing style that suited you. Thanks for this review! :tiphat:
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Post by Firefawkes »

I have a feeling that this book will make me want to travel! I wonder if the descriptions of the scenery and cultures are accurate to the places they visit, and if the author has visited each one? Anyway, this book seems very well done and is one that I would be interested in reading! Thanks for your review.

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Post by unamilagra »

inaramid wrote: ↑
08 Mar 2019, 00:39
This definitely sounds like a great (fictional) travelogue. I like the premise here and how the characters defy the caricatures of men in media and books. I'd have to look into this more. Thanks for this wonderful review!
Yes, I really enjoyed the book. I hope you decide to check it out! Thanks for stopping by!
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Kibetious wrote: ↑
08 Mar 2019, 05:22
This is a wonderful review, one of the nicest that I have read today. Thanks for describing so well that I just feel like that it should be the next on my reading list. Great to see that the four men are described as ordinary people hence making them relatable. I would love to read this.
Thank you for the compliment! I hope you decide to check it out!
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Post by unamilagra »

briellejee wrote: ↑
08 Mar 2019, 22:04
Not really want to read about men, but hey, whatever the gender of the character is as long as it is well-written, I am not one to argue. I liked that you pointed out that other than the incredible characters there is something to look forward as well: their travel to different countries. It seems like the author has an excellent writing style that suited you. Thanks for this review! :tiphat:
I don't tend to read much about men either, but I'm glad I made an exception for this one. Thanks for your comment!
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Post by unamilagra »

Firefawkes wrote: ↑
09 Mar 2019, 18:36
I have a feeling that this book will make me want to travel! I wonder if the descriptions of the scenery and cultures are accurate to the places they visit, and if the author has visited each one? Anyway, this book seems very well done and is one that I would be interested in reading! Thanks for your review.
Actually, I wondered the same thing so I looked up the author. He has a travel blog and it does look like he's been just about everywhere. The only place I have personally been from his book was Fiji, and I think his portrayal of the traditional villages and kava ceremonies were pretty on point, so I trust his descriptions of the other cultures as well. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
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