Who hasn't seen the movie at least once ? That the book is very different from the movie splatter does indeed surprise as it takes a few completely different turns than the movie does.
The story itself is pretty much the same:
Amity is a vacation community on Long Island that lives on the earnings taken in during the summer vacation season and it's tourism.
At the early summer days a girl is killed by a shark. The chief of police, Martin Brody, wants to close the beach but is pressured by higher locals and the selectmen to not do it. When more people die in a short amount of time he's still pressured to keep the beach open and after a short time of having them closed to open them again.
Ichthyologist Matt Hooper arrives in town to help with the search of the killer fish and for many days Chief Brody, Hooper and the venturous fisher Quint try to find the fish but it seems that the fish is the one that comes to them, taking first Hooper and then Quint. Brody faces the fish on the sinking boat and comes away ... . alive.
So much for the plot. But there is much more to mention which wasn't included in the movie. For example Ellen Brody's unhappiness with her social status and her short escape into an affair with Matt Hooper. The islands political structure and not to forget the fish hunt which is so different from the movie. I've been waiting for the famous sentence said by Brody "We need a bigger boat" but it never came. Instead Hooper didn't survive and got killed when he went down in the shark cage.
The ending of the book is completely different from the movie as well and I don't know which one I like more. Probably the movie ending because it has more of an impact but the book ending certainly explains more of the course the Brody family seems to have to go through in the future.
Overall, after today's standard the book probably wouldn't be such a success than it was in 1974. The characters are very unsympathetic with Brody being the most real.
Very good book, except the 'part two' the affair isnt the greatest part, and it disrupts the flow. Do what I did. Read the book, quick skim over the affair part, and enjoy the ending.
Allow me to preface this review with the following fact: Jaws is one of my very favorite movies of all time. Which is why, having read other Peter Benchley novels, I wanted to read the book. And which is also why I would say that I'm quite biased. With that being said... I did NOT like this book. Thank you Steven Spielberg for making such an awesome movie that brought out all the key points of this terrible, rambling story. I found myself hating most of the characters, the "affair" section (which I'm sure you've heard about if you read other reviews) was totally pointless, and it was just a terrible mess. So I would have to say that this is one of the rare occasions that I HATED the book, LOVED the movie.
This is a good, easy book to listen to on audio...just not while on your next trip to the beach! I enjoyed listening to it but I can honestly say that the movie was much better than the book. That isn't to say that the book is bad, I'm just saying that the movie was awesome so don't expect this story to grab you in exactly the same way. The reason that the book drags, in my opinion, is that the characters are muddy and even the "good guys" are mildly annoying. There are too many runners going through the story to make it as seamless as it should be and I think that, with a little less distraction, the author could have KO'd me with a flurry of fists instead of just jabbing at me and giving me the occasional right hook. I do recommend this book but I definitely think that audio is the way to go on this one, especially if you - like me - will not finish a story if you have to wade through a bit of boring silliness to get to the real action.
Sadly, I couldn't even finish this book. I made it to about 130 pages before I decided it's not for me. I'll stick with the movie.
The story line holds true to form from the original February 1974 Doubleday publication even though this edition was published January 1975 by Bantam.
My copy is one printed in 1975 and has a drawing of the shark coming underneath the female swimmer in the water. For being such an old copy, it is in EXCELLENT condition!