Jaws by Peter Benchley

(No Series from Author)

It's out there in the water...waiting. Nature's most fearsome predator. The seaside community of Amity is at its mercy. A small-town police chief, a marine biologist, and a modern-day Ahab must try to stop it. But they are only three men...alone against the Great White Death.

“There's nothing in the sea this fish would fear. Other fish run from bigger things. That's their instinct. But this fish doesn't run from anything. He doesn't fear.”

I first read Jaws when I was teenager; of course by then I’d already seen the movie countless times. I remember finding it dry, dull, or not as good as the movie. Based on this year’s re-read, I still find the movie better, but the books earned more brownie points than it did the first time around. I think when I was younger the intricacies of the marriage subplot didn’t jive with me.

Bentley makes a focus theme being the marriage of Chief Brody, from his wife Ellen’s boredom and to his inferiority complex, knowing what it left unsaid. While Hooper is a friend and savior in the movie, in the book he is basically a rival to his wife’s bed. That said, I still liked Hooper, even if I think the writer wants us to dislike him - I felt bad for what happened to him on the pages in the end.

“The past always seems better when you look back on it than it did at the time. And the present never looks as good as it will in the future.”
Ellen may have been going through an unsatisfied wife thing, but she was realistic, well written, and I didn’t dislike her either, despite potential betrayal. Brody shone in book form as well as he did in the movie – a reluctant hero who puts aside his own personal safety to save the life of his town. Their marriage woes weren’t exactly a side plot, as they took up a large part of the book, which is why some may not care for this much. I did like the personal drama, especially that awkward dinner scene.

Jaws is a worthy villain, given an teasing, hunting role when the three men go to battle him on-board. It’s kind of like the cheesy revenge plot we all want to forget in Jaws 4: The Revenge. In novel form, the craftiness of the shark (that shouldn’t exist) stands out more clearly – as does Quint’s obsession for personal revenge. His story in book form about his experiences in the war are also more depressingly sobering.

A great story but the semi-sedate pace keeps it from swimming up to that five star goal. Jaws is a killing machine but that’s just not as impressive written down without that infamous John Williams score and the Spielberg’s directing of the death scenes. Jaws bites down, but there’s not as much suspense delivered during those scenes, other than perhaps the opening scene.

   Book Quotes:

“The fish was an enemy. It had come upon the community and killed two men, a woman, and a child. The people of Amity would demand the death of the fish. They would need to see it dead before they could feel secure enough to resume their normal lives.”

   Movie Trailer:

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