Jaws by Peter Benchley

A year before Steven Spielberg frightened audiences away from beaches with his blockbuster film Jaws, author Peter Benchley was terrifying readers with the book that would inspire the movie. That movie has become so entrenched in our popular culture that Benchley's novel seems to be forever stuck in its shadow. As a fan of the film (I even appreciate the atrocious sequels for the silly fun that they are), I decided to read the book that created the phenomenon.

The peaceful tourist town of Amity is disturbed when the mangled remains of a woman's body washes ashore. There is no denying the cause of death. The woman was clearly attacked by a shark. And from the severity of the wounds, it looks like it was a massive one. 

Amity Police Chief Martin Brody is determined to do everything in his power to prevent any further attacks, but he is met with a united resistance from the local political and business leaders. Shutting down the beaches during the peak of summer tourist season would cripple the town's economy and scare away any potential new visitors. Instead the townsmen elect to bring in the expertise of shark guru Matt Hooper. Hooper assures the town that sharks rarely stick around and that any future attacks are highly unlikely. Hooper is wrong. 

The resulting hunt is as thrilling and suspenseful as anything I've ever read. The book particularly benefits from being able to show readers the shark's perspective. The plot inches further with an ever present foreboding. Benchley inhabits his story with a variety of townspeople whose motivations add to the complexity of the situation. That being said, I found most of the characters difficult to sympathize with. These are not 'good' people, and most of their troubles are self inflicted. I was particularly troubled by a detailed account of Brody's wife having an affair. This portion did little to advance the main plot or to develop the character. Overall, Jaws the novel is a fun but inconsistent story that never reaches the same depth or excitement of the movie. 

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, or GoodReads.

(2016, 9)

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 10, 2016 and is filed under ,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

2 Responses to “Jaws by Peter Benchley”

  1. Oh wow! I may be showing my age with this comment but I had no idea the movie was inspired by a book. *ducks behind movie screen* lol I can only imaging the descriptive writing Benchley used! Will definitely look into this. Good review!

    I'm new to the book blogging world and would love to connect with a fellow book lover :-)


    1. I'm always surprised by just how many movies actually started off as a movie. I took a peek at your blog and really liked what I saw. Congrats and welcome to you!


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