Author: Peter Benchley
First Published: 1974
Page Count: 309
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 5/5 Stars
The perfect summer beach read that will make you think twice about taking a swim in the deep blue sea.
*Terrifying villain *Gripping conclusion
*Split between a monster story and a human drama
“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…” Jaws, it’s a book that has been named one of the most influential ever written because of the fear it inspired in so many readers and eventually moviegoers. The story of a massive great white shark that stalks the waters of the fictional town of Amity and feeds on the unsuspecting swimmers changed the way the world looks at the real life animal. In this classic piece of literature, police chief Brody, rugged fisherman Quint, and oceanographer Hooper must try to put an end to the terror any way they can.
This, along with Jurassic Park, was one of those movies I wasn’t allowed to see when I was little but ended up watching anyway. Even at that age I could tell that it stood out from the rest. It took me over twenty years to finally realize this was based on a book and so I jumped on finding a copy. The infamous fish is just as scary as Benchley’s cover promises. He’s no ordinary member of his species; he’s monstrously big and devious to boot. Like any good monster book, he seems impossible to take down and frightening to behold. Books about monster sharks are few and far between and Benchley delivers with a thrilling story that matches his villain. The pace is exciting and the book closes with one of the most creepy and memorable endings I’ve ever read.
The one thing that threw me for a loop was how different the plot of the book was to the movie. The bare bones are there – town needs tourism to survive and the shark throws their future up in the air. However, this felt a lot more like a Stephen King book. There is a monster but there is also a lot of human drama and politics brewing that comes to a head as the monster starts its reign of terror. I enjoyed that aspect of the book, and it was really interesting seeing this other angle to the story. However, it might disappoint some who think this book is going to be exactly like the film. At some points I wanted a little more shark action.
There’s no doubt, you’ve got to check out this book if you haven’t. Summer is in full swing and it’s the perfect story to get caught up in on the beach or wherever you happen to be. The book goes beyond the shark and really looks at how its presence affects the residents of Amity. You think you know Jaws? You don’t know anything until you check out the book that started it all.
*Film Adaptations: (Directed by Steven Spielberg 1975)