Will Hobbs is no stranger to the genre of realistic nature-related fiction. I would in fact find it safe to say that Will Hobbs has mastered this genre. Leaving Protection is a great example of his L33T \/\/r1t1|\|g 5k1llz.
Leaving Protection is a story of a boy named Robbie, who leaves his floathouse home at Port Protection to get a job as a deckhand to a salmon troller. He arrives in the port town of Craig to find that nearly all the openings for deckhands have been taken. Luckily, he gets a tip from a local that a certain "highliner," or very successful fisherman, might be able to use his help. Well, Robbie's curiosity gets the better of him as he begins to snoop about aboard the guy's boat, and stumbles across this odd plaque. The captain of the Storm Petrel, Tor Torsen, catches him and after much begging, Robbie manages to persuade the highliner captain to hire him - or so he thinks. Robbie eventually learns from Tor the meaning of the plaques. The plaques were buried along the coast hundreds of years before by the Russians to stake their claim on Alaska. Tor hunts for these plaques and unearths them to sell on the black market for his retirement fund. As they pursue these plaques, Robbie feels as though danger is imminent. Does he know too much? What does Tor have in store for him? Meanwhile, a monstrous storm approaches. What is Robbie to do?
The main reason behind my great enjoyment of Leaving Protection was Will Hobbs's attention to detail. Hobbs makes such colorful descriptions of the fishing. As I read Leaving Protection, I could feel my sea legs returning. I braced as the Storm Petrel skipped across the bay. I saw the ever so lustrous King salmon leap out from the water. I heard the dull thud of the gaff making contact with its skull. I could feel the sea spray on my face and taste the salty water on my tongue when a swell came.
One problem I initially encountered was a weak sense of character complexity, but when you live on a boat for a couple weeks, it doesn't take a three-ring circus to entertain you. Besides, the filler between the single-sided suspense is probably the best part, sort of like a 99¢ cheeseburger from McDonald's: the air-pocketed storyline holds the compressed, pre-cut character patty in place, while what appears to be a half-melted slice of cheesy nothingness keeps it all glued. Try pulling the bun off, and half of it is stuck to the cheese, while the other half is in flakes on your lap. You can't slip the meat out, because that cheese is sticking for good. The fishing is the source of calcium. It strengthens your structure and it's the only thing in that sandwich that's good for you.
I may be able to better appreciate Will Hobbs's descriptions because I have sport-fished for salmon in Southeastern Alaska on three occasions. However, even if you have never seen live salmon, Will Hobbs does a great job of depicting the actual setting - it's even historically accurate. I think Leaving Protection deserves a full 5 points, and if I had another dollar, I'd buy another burger.