Albert is a platypus who has escaped from the Adelaide zoo and set out on a quest to try to find others of his kind. He has a vague memory of a beautiful place where he once lived with his mother. Armed only with that knowledge and a stolen soft drink bottle filled with water, he sets out into the Australian outback to find home. Along the way he runs into a wild cast of characters including a wombat who likes to burn down buildings, a pair of bandicoots who can't seem to survive without a drink, kangaroos, dingoes, and the mysterious Muldoon. As he stumbles from one mishap into the next, Albert learns more about himself and the world around him and has to figure out who he can trust to help him on his journey.
What I Liked:
- This is one of the most unique books I've read. It's a western and a hero's quest and a coming of age and a fantasy all rolled up into one book.
- Albert's character development was well done. He's naive and confused and fairly timid at the beginning and he grows, but doesn't change so much that he's unrecognizable at the end - a feat that was actually fairly difficult to pull off considering the things that happen to and around him through the course of the narrative.
- The secondary characters are enjoyable and very distinctive.
- I would have liked just a bit more character development with the secondary characters. They're unique, but sometimes I felt like they were just a bit flat - like their quirks were their main substance. Not all the time, but at times.
- I understood the purpose of leaving the ending open the way it was, but I felt vaguely dissatisfied by it. I didn't get the closure I was hoping for, I guess.
- An enjoyable and very different read for fans of westerns or slightly dark fiction.
- The animal protagonists do not in any way make this a comic or light read, but allow Anderson to explore the ideas of friendship, home, and growth in a very unique way.
- I know I keep using the word unique, but it's the best descriptor I have!