Author: Peter Benchley
Purchase from: Amazon
Review by: John Milton
If you’ve not seen the movie, then you’ll undoubtedly at least have heard of it! However, have you read the book?
‘Is it horror?’ Despite the protestations of one of my dearest friends, “What’s scary about a big fish?” I would respectfully submit to you that yes, ‘Jaws’ is in fact a horror. If you are of the opinion that a masked man stalking teenagers in smalltown America, picking them off one by one is horror; then a man-eating shark preying on unsuspecting bathers off the coast of smalltown America is no different.
For me, if there was a physical embodiment of fear, it’s a shark. This is an absolutely primal fear of an animal whose basic design has not evolved or changed in millions of years. Sharks are effectively living fossils, an apex predator so perfectly acclimated to its ecosystem that they have survived for millions of years at the top of their food chain. So yes, ‘Jaws’ is a horror novel.
Released in 1974, ‘Jaws’ hit the bestseller lists and stayed there for nearly a whole year.
The author (Peter Benchley) drew his inspiration for this novel from a number of real-life incidents, most notably the 1964 landing of a 2000kg Great White Shark caught off the coast of New York state and the infamous Jersey Shore attacks of 1916.
As stated previously, ‘Jaws’ is the story of a small American coastal town, reliant on summer tourist trade that is preyed upon by a man-eating Great White Shark; and the subsequent hunting of said shark by the town’s police chief, an Ichthyologist and the local seasoned shark hunter. Many will already be familiar with the Spielberg film adaptation but I would suggest to you all that the novel is by far the superior of the two.
‘Jaws’ the novel provides far greater depth to the characters involved with the backstory to Ellen Brodie and the Chief’s marriage, the Mayor’s shady dealings and other aspects that I choose not to reveal to those who are not familiar with the book. As opposed to the film, the book offers significantly different relationship dynamics for the lead protagonists and a palpable feeling of tension on board the boat that viewers of the film will already be familiar with. Overall, there is a generally darker tone throughout the book and an ending that is poles apart from the distinctly showbiz finale of the movie.
This is one of my shorter reviews but I fail to see the point in a book review that simply gives the whole plot of a novel away, effectively ruining it for any potential reader!
In my opinion, ‘Jaws’ is an incredibly satisfying read that easily drew me into the world created by Benchley. My only warning with this book would be to save it for dry land; this is not a book you want to be reading on the beach!
Would you like to have a book reviewed? Contact Books of the Dead Press for details:
Like what you see? Please support Books of the Dead by purchasing one of our books. Thank you!