Wanted! New Dad is the 9th entry in author Gary Taaffe’s Urban Hunters series. It’s a low key, charming series about a young aboriginal boy who goes on his walkabout into mainstream Australian culture, and the people he meets along the way. That makes it an odd choice for a serialized story; the stakes are low here, cliffhangers are non-existent, and the tension is fairly minimal. And yet, it’s a format that’s worked for this series, at least for me; every time I get a new entry, I find myself charmed, smiling, and happy to re-engage with this world all over again.
Part of what makes it so easy to return is the way that Taaffe makes the most of his digital format; every entry comes complete with a character index that recaps who everyone is and what their story is so far, and making that even better is the fact that Taaffe hyperlinks the first occurrence of each character’s name to their entry for easy recapping. But really, even with the low stakes, I found myself remembering the story fairly quickly, and adjusting quite nicely back to the world.
Well, more or less. Wanted! New Dad feels a bit more chaotic than some of the other entries; as if it’s not enough that Billy’s currently supervising a group of orphans, a pack of dogs, and bonding with a girl of about his own age, this volume finds him making his way back to his tribe, dealing with some anxiety among some of the boys, and somehow or another intersecting with a big Pride parade. All of which is pretty delightful material, but it doesn’t feel as effortlessly told as these books usually do, and I definitely spent a moment or two in the parade wondering how we ended up here. Nonetheless, Taaffe makes it all work. His characters are wonderful to hang out with; his dialogue is fun; his world interestingly depicted and sharply realized (especially for an American audience); and while the plot may feel minor, he keeps the emotional stakes high at all times, driving you to care about these characters and what happens with them.
Is making something this quiet and simple the ideal fit for the serialized format? Maybe not…but it hasn’t made me enjoy it any less, or be any less happy every time I get to read a new entry. Bring on the rest, and here’s hoping there’s no end in sight. I love this wonderful little series, and I’m glad it keeps on coming.