Jaws, written by Peter Benchley in 1974, is a novel that has earned its place among the iconic horrors ever written. The story of a great white shark terrorizing a summer getaway on Amity Island and the motley group of men who take to the water to battle with it has been adapted into one of the most famous movies ever made by Steven Spielberg.
The novel Jaws is not just about a man-eating shark; it is also an exploration of humanity’s nature. Benchley uses his characters to analyze how people react under extreme pressure and danger. Chief Brody’s fear and desperation as he tries to protect his community, Quint’s obsession with hunting down the shark, and Hooper’s scientific curiosity all give us insight into different aspects of human behavior when faced with adversity.
One thing that sets Jaws apart from other books in its genre is its pacing. Benchley keeps the story moving at an exhilarating pace, never letting up on the suspense until the very end. As readers, we are constantly on edge, wondering what will happen next and how our heroes will survive their encounters with the shark.
The character development in Jaws is also top-notch. Each character has their own backstory and personality quirks that make them feel like real people rather than just caricatures. We understand why Chief Brody is so desperate to protect his community, why Quint has such an intense hatred for sharks, and why Hooper feels compelled to study them.
Like most adaptations, the novel differs from the feature film at moments, but not always in a good way. The film that kicked-off summer blockbusters was more tightly tuned, avoiding some of the drama in the novel and rightfully so.
Jaws is a heart-pounding novel of suspense that remains a classic to this day. Benchley’s exploration of human nature in the face of danger is both insightful and thought-provoking, while his pacing and character development keep us on the edge of our seats until the very end. While Spielberg’s movie adaptation is a masterpiece in its own right, Benchley’s novel offers another look into the world of Jaws and the community of Amity Island. Whether you’re a fan of books or movies, Jaws is an absolute must-read.