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Jaws by Peter Benchley (BOOK REVIEW) 3/5

The infamous great white killer- a classic of animal thrillers- gave me pause when I started to read it. “Jaws” was a movie I loved as a kid, and I set forth to finally delve into the source material, the book that started at all. I have to give a big kudos to author Peter Benchley, who thoroughly admitted to having not known enough about sharks when he wrote Jaws. He painted his own story, facts be damned, in a time where little was known about sharks- but he, as an author, owned up to his misinformative novel and proceeded to spend his life campaigning for the correct facts of sharks, as well as doing a ton of work for ocean conservation. I hold a great deal of respect for Mr. Benchley, giving me all the more reason to dive into his book.

I quickly found the major plot differences between the book and the famous movie. The characters in the movie are rather one dimensional- led by simple greed. Where, in the book, there are whole plots you completely will miss out on! Daring mafia threats, emotional family outbursts, sordid love affairs- Jaws really does a great job of utilizing its side characters. It dives deeply into the mindsets and ambitions of those involved in the shark attacks of Amity’s waters, from Hooper’s fascination with sharks to Quint’s money schemes, and most of all, those of Martin Brody, the main character. Between battling his jealous suspicions of his wife’s affair and trying to keep Amity safe with his unpopular decision to keep the beaches closed, he struggles to keep his head above the water. When you compare the movie to the book, the movie is lackluster in comparison, using all of the cool visuals but very little of the actual story.

However, I did give Jaws a 3, which for me is average. Reading it was merely an okay experience for me, personally. It had some good moments, some bits of great description, but it overall didn’t wow me. It’s a good read, but it’s one you really have to read, and I feel like those with a background in fishing or boating might find more gems of interest here. The most interesting part of the book to me was the love affair of Brody’s wife, and their relationship, and if it hadn’t been for that, I’m not sure I would have rated it as highly as I did.

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