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.
The reason for my fear of the Ocean!!!!
JAWS the novel will never live up to JAWS the movie, but anyone who loves the movie would be more than rewarded for chomping into Peter Benchley's deep blue vision of a shark terrorizing the local holiday resort of Amity Island. Jaws topped the bestseller list for 44 weeks and had massive appeal. It is a well written horror story about a shark attack and a local cop, Chief Brody, who needs to restore order to a town that is quickly loosing its summer trade. There are many different plot elements not found in the movie, like the Amity rapist, the mafia connection, several variations in the shark attacks, Ellen Brody's character is more fully developed and she even tries to have an affair with Hooper. Vaughn is up to his eyeballs in dept. There is also the character of Whitman, the newspaper editor. Yes there are many elements in the movie that are not in the book and similar scenes are not played out as good. You are forgiven to pass on the lengthy dinner sequence or the Ellen Brody / Hooper after flirt. However the ending is so very different that it will have you extremely surprised in the final 30 pages that are just as shocking as the movie. In fact it is the variation in how it was originally conceived that should make any fan happy. There are some very shocking things that Quint gets up to in his boat with sharks and dolphins. The man versus beast element is very strong and the book is considerably violent in many ways other than just shark attacks. It is much darker than the movie which was aimed at a family audience. The book is a lot harsher and doesn't shy away from some stuff that will have you look away from the page. It is absolutely shocking stuff at times and so lives up to its hype.