Learn more Download now Shop now Shop now flip flip flip Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

  • Jaws
  • Customer reviews

First published in 1974 this is probably not the best book to read if you are on the beach and thinking of taking a dip. After all you just don’t know what could be out there, and those great white sharks are prone at times to take a bite out of someone, although we are far from being their preferred food. With only the Orca as its natural enemy this is a fish that is definitely to be feared.

Taking place at the fictional seaside town of Amity, on Long Island, things are hopefully brewing up to a good summer. In a place where the local inhabitants rely on outsiders to stay and spend their money over the warm months, anything that may keep them away is a disaster. And when a woman is seemingly killed by a shark, so the town’s worse fears could be realised, especially when the problem starts to escalate.

Although definitely a thrilling read this was a success on first publication, mainly helped by some neat marketing and then the release of the film. With political machinations as well as sexual tension and adultery this helps to balance the story out a bit, so we don’t end up with just a shark chase and so on. But it is the shark that always grabs your attention.

With the town getting in a hunting fisherman to go after the shark this does have some nice cat and mouse play between man and killing machine, and the suspense and audacity of the shark does give this that oomph that it needs, and that people enjoy.

In all this is always fun to read, and if you have never read it before then perhaps it is something to add to your list, but just don’t read it before you go for a swim in the sea.
4 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 May 2018
This was probably the first ‘grown up’ book that I read, back in the second year of grammar school (what I suppose we would now call Year 8). Of course, we are all familiar with the film (which I think I had probably seen before reading the book), which was one of Stephen Spielberg’s early blockbuster successes.

After a gap of more than forty years, the novel seems to have held up fairly well. It is definitely a plot-driven story: Benchley doesn’t loiter to flesh out his characters in any depth, and even Police Chief Brody (the Roy Scheider character) remains fairly two dimensional. Indeed, Peter Benchley spends almost as long on the personality of the shark (Oops … I have just thought … Should I have given a spoiler alert before mentioning the shark? Ah, well, too late now!) as on any of the other characters. Don’t, however, view that as necessarily a bad thing. This is a thriller, and the author unfolds his story rapidly, without unnecessary lets or hindrances. In the same way that ice cubes, straws and fancy adornments might simply represent unwelcome and peripheral impediments to an alcoholic seeking urgently to down a drink and bask in the relief of a decent shot, there are some novels that do need to rely on gushing pen portraits of lovingly created protagonists.

There is, however, an interesting sub-plot that was less prominent in the film. Spielberg’s film certainly acknowledged the fact that Amity, the island-based community being terrorised by the shark, was dependent upon the summer holiday trade from wealthy New Yorkers. It did not delve into this financial morass as deeply as the book, though, where the Mayor’s insistence upon opening the beaches to lure the holiday trade has more sinister undertones founded on organised crime.

This is a solid, well thought out story that has stood the test of time. The edition I read was also beautifully produced as part of the ’70 Years of Pan’ series.

I am sorry if I spoiled it for anyone by mentioning the shark.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 2 May 2018
Bitterly disappointed by the book upon which my favourite movie is (thankfully loosely) based!
When Benchley sticks to actually writing about the shark there are some great sections and these are the only reason for my generous 2 star rating because most of his human characters are so truly awful that I was hoping many of them would end up as tasty treats for the fish.
I found it really hard to read through the racism & deep misogyny in Benchleys writing and found his ideas around rape especially disturbing.
There is far too much focus on the Hooper/Ellen Brody subplot which feels so unnecessary to the story. It’s clear why this storyline was completely cut from the movie adaptation...a shame Benchley didn’t come to the same conclusion prior to publishing as more focus on the fish could have made this book great.
Be warned of the very very abrupt ending too. Overall it feels like reading a poor rough first draft of a potentially great story written by someone with serious issues.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 27 July 2017
I first read this book when it came out so was pleased to read it again. First the book is different than the film in how some of the key character interact together. If you enjoy the film try the book and enjoy the ride.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 31 January 2016
Really like the book in depth and the shark behaving as the books describes. Jaws, being shown on TV so many times, I loved the film to when it first came out although like a great many 1970's classics, being repeated so many times takes the fun out of watching the film. I enjoy having red the book from the beginning from Chrissie Watkins the first victim to the boy on the floating sun bed to they go out to sea to finally try to kill it.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 21 March 2018
I expected a watery copy of the movie. This is so well-written, it's stunning. Try it. Even the violence is appropriate, as are the swear words.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 13 May 2017
Cant fault this book. My second time reading, first time i was a teenager and now 20+ years later i enjoyed it more than i did then.
Very much recommend this book.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 4 September 2010
I bought this to read on holiday, and I havr to say it actually did make me a bit weary of going into the sea!!

Jaws has long been my favourite film, so I thought I'd give the book a go, presuming it wouldn't be as good as the film. I was wrong-the book is much better than the film (not saying that the film isn't brilliant!). There is so much more character development, story twists and sub-plots which keep the story moving quickly and keep the reader gripped.

I thought that the last chapter (the last 10-15 pages) seemed a little rushed, but that didn't spoil what is one of the best novels I have ever read.

The book and film complement each other really well in my opinion, as the film is quite true to the original book.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 3 December 2012
I love the movie Jaws, I grew up with the Jaws films and from previous experience knowing books are often much better than the films I jumped at the chance of reading this book when it was offer. I found it a real page turner, and so much more in depth than the film was. Each chapter I couldn't wait to turn the page and read the next chapter. There was a whole new element to the book with the story of Brodys wife and Hooper that the film never even glanced at. I felt the story was different enough for me to not 'know' how the book would end, from knowing the film. Would I have read the book without knowing the film, probably not but I'm glad I did.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 25 May 2018
Cannot believe I'm saying this but the film is miles better than the book. It's donkeys years since I first read it. But not as good as what I thought. Arrived quite quick.
|0Comment|Report abuse

Need customer service? Click here