By Peter Benchley
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400064564, Originally published 1974, 320pp.)
The Short of It:
Nearly 40 years old and it STILL gives me goosebumps!
The Rest of It:
Last year or the year before, my student assistant told me that she had never heard of JAWS. I was rambling on about movies and when she said that, I stopped mid-sentence, looked the movie up on Netflix and gave her orders to see that weekend.
Did she listen? No. But, it was at that moment that I remembered the book. I had not read the book before and thought it might make a good summer read and boy, did it! As perfect as a book about a man-eating shark can be! The story takes place right before the July 4th holiday, in a small beach community called Amity. The presence of a shark, made evident by the aftermath left behind, forces city officials to close the beach during one of the busiest weekends of the summer. As you can imagine, most of the revenue for such a small town comes from tourists visiting for the summer so the closure of the beach is a big to-do and not a move favored by everyone. As the town digs in to find this shark, a rag-tag group is hastily formed and off they go, in search of the Great White.
The book is actually really, really good. I hate mass marketed copies of anything but if you have a copy lying around, I urge you to dig it out. The pacing is perfect, the tension is just right and there is just enough of a back story to keep you interested.
That said, there are some major differences between the book and the movie and those differences involve main characters. I won’t go into them because I want you to experience the book for yourself. A friend of mine said that the book is all about the shark but I disagree. We get to know the human characters quite well from the book, whereas in the movie… we are only given a tiny bit of their personal lives.
Still, it was the perfect summer read and even though the movie was different in some ways, I still consider it one of the best movies ever and it’s 35 years old!! So, with July 4th just around the corner, I dare you to take a dip!
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