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Jaws by Peter Benchley

Jaws (original 1974; edition 1974)

by Peter Benchley

Series: Jaws (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,8151053,041 (3.6)133
Authors:Peter Benchley
Info:Bantam Books (1974), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library

Work details

Jaws by Peter Benchley (1974)

  1. 50
    Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: Another novel of people battling a man-eating shark.
  2. 10
    Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzzo (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Rather obvious I know - but it does seem to be the source!
  3. 00
    The Loch by Steve Alten (Hedgepeth)
    Hedgepeth: Trouble in the water versus the tourism industry and a reluctant protagonist
  4. 00
    Shark Trouble: True Stories About Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley (Bridgey)
    Bridgey: Gives real life inspirations behind the writing of Jaws coupled with true stories of shark attacks and the reasons.
  5. 12
    Beast by Peter Benchley (FFortuna, Bridgey)
    Bridgey: Same sort of story, but for my money a lot better. Seems to concentrate more on the animal that Jaws did.

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Showing 1-5 of 101 (next | show all)
The book that spawned the famous movie is actually surprisingly good -Benchley is more than a compenent writer.

Unlike the movie, the book does not focus so much on the "terror of the beast". Instead, it examines the effect that the shark killings have on the community of the small Atlantic island off the coast of the US. This community is totally dependant on its summer tourism revenue and there is interesting dynamics going on between the local population and the usually wealthy summer guests, including a romance.

If it had been written today, it would have been more character driven still, but nevertheless, the main point is - it's about people and their community, not about the shark.

This edition includes the author's foreword, written fairly recently. In it, he expresses regret in portraying the shark as a killing monster and urges people to learn about ocean conservation. I thought that was pretty cool. ( )
  matija2019 | Jan 8, 2019 |
Not as entertaining as the movie in my opinion, but an okay read. The short review is to take everything you saw in the film, add social commentary about local life in small resort towns, and re-write Matt Hooper into a younger, single man, and you've pretty much got the book.

I was in it for the shark, and I think Spielberg did a good job when it came to pulling that part out of the book and making it into a movie. The social aspects that were left out form a story of their own, in which the presence of a shark is as much a problem as the shark itself. As a reader, I feel I understand the mayor's character more in the book than I did in the film, as you see why he made the choices he did.

Along with seeking and surviving a killer shark, Benchley examines Amity's economy, its attitudes regarding insiders and outsiders, and we see deeper into the relationships between the characters than the film allows.

To add, as far as the horror genre goes, I can't really give a good answer on this book as I've seen the movie countless times. Nothing stuck out to be from the book that I isn't overridden by my memories of the film. ( )
  WeeTurtle | Sep 27, 2018 |
This book was a nightmare. An utter disaster.

I went into it expecting it to be far better than the movies, because that is typically the case. It was not.

At least the movie got it mostly right. It was about the shark and it's unexplainable appearance and extended stay in the waters of the small island town. What the movie got wrong was the the shark was not a monster, but a victim. I always cheered for the shark. What the book got right was... Quint dying--which is not a spoiler because it happens in the movie and if you haven't seen the movie at least once, I just don't know what you've been doing with your life.

So it started off really great, the initial shark attack, they immediately knew it was a shark attack, and the Chief of police was strong-armed into covering the whole thing up in order to save the summer tourism for the island. And to some degree, it's almost understandable. They need the summer tourism boom to live through the winter, and the statistics suggested that there wouldn't be another attack. Even if the Chief had a bad feeling about it. And of course the Chief was right to want close the beaches, because two more people get attacked--in the same day. They can't hide it any more. News outlets have gotten hold of the story and it's beginning to look bad for Amity.

Then a good third of the books goes on to focus on Chief Brody and is wife and their marital problems. Ellen who is portrayed as loving and strong in the films is a selfish, weak [insert bad word] in the novel. Long story short, she regrets giving up her life of means to marry Martin and she makes him suffer for it. She has an affair with Hooper and the whole thing just makes me hate her character completely.

They uncover information that the mayor is in deep with the mafia which is why he's been pushing Chief Brody to reopen the beaches in time for Independence Day. Which, actually kinda makes more sense than the entire town council being a bunch of heartless jerks who didn't care if tourists died in a shark attack as long as they made good money that summer.

This book was definitely a product of the time it was written in. It screamed 1970s from the terminology used to the behaviors displayed. But Quint was by and far the worst. He was a horrible person in both book and film. His methods were despicable and his lack of empathy for animal life... Needless to say he deserved to die even if he didn't get the death he deserved. The shark took him with him, but I feel he should have been the shark's last meal.

I was really cheering for the shark to live and everyone else to die. But no such luck. The best parts of the book were Quint kicking the bucket and Hooper waxing poetic about the possibility of megalodon being a live somewhere in the depths of the ocean and how beautiful she would be.

This was just a disappointment to me. ( )
1 vote Virago77 | Sep 3, 2018 |
Just an awesome read. There were a few things I felt were missing that could have made for a more satisfying end, but that's just my opinion. Great book nonetheless. ( )
  anthonypuyo | Aug 12, 2018 |
It's been a decade or so since I watched the movie, so this book was still full of surprises and suspense. It was genuinely good and it makes me want to re-watch the movie something fierce! Compelling, humorous, full of small town hopes and aspirations, second chances, and second guesses; Jaws is much more than a "horror" novel. At the center of the story is Brody, the police chief of Amity
a beach community with a population 1,000 in the winter and 10,000 in the summer. After the human remains of a missing swimmer are found, Brody tries to close the beaches. Shark attacks are a serious business and he's never seen anything like this! The community in an outrage declares the beaches need to stay open for tourism and Brody reluctantly agrees. Amity becomes a nightmare. A young boy and an old man are eaten on that first day and soon others follow. They're not dealing with an ordinary shark. Brody will need all the help he can get to take of this beast haunting his town's waters! ( )
  ecataldi | Jun 7, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 101 (next | show all)
While Jaws the movie is a bone-chilling update on Moby Dick, Jaws the novel is more like Peyton Place by the sea. Everyone swears like a sailor, and the hunt for the shark comes a very distant second to a bunch of hot summer trysts.
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De zomer van de witte haai
for Wendy
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The great fish moved silently through the night water, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
It's out there in the water...waiting. Nature's most relentless predator. It fears nothing. It attacks anything. It devours everything. The seaside community of Amity is at its mercy. A smalltown police, a marine biologist, and a modern-day Ahab must try to stop it. But they are the only three men...alone against the Great White Death.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385047711, Hardcover)

It was just another day in the life of a small Atlantic resort until the terror from the deep came to prey on unwary holiday makers. The first sign of trouble - a warning of what was to come - took the form of a young woman's body, or what was left of it, washed, up on the long, white stretch of beach...A summer of terror has begun. 'Pick up Jaws before midnight, read the first five pages, and I guarantee you'll be putting it down breathless and stunned, as dawn is breaking the next day' Daily Express; Peter Benchley's Jaws first appeared in 1974, creating a legend that refuses to die. For a new generation, the ultimate holiday nightmare is about to begin all over again...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:41 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

When three people are killed by a great white shark in three different incidents, the police chief of a Long Island resort town is forced to take action.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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Average: (3.6)
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1 18
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