©2002 Peter Benchley; (P)2009 BBC Audiobooks America
I read this book many years ago and knew it differed from the movie, but I thought it would be fun to listen to the audiobook version. First off, yes - the movie is much better than the book - not because the book is awful, but rather because the movie is just so good and memorable. And it is true the dialogue Benchley's puts in his character's mouths is not particularly natural and there are many redundant sections throughout.
(Do note, however, that this book did spend 40 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller list and sold 20+ million copies, so someone certainly liked it!)
However, the book is unintentionally fascinating as a view into mid-1970's US society. I really enjoyed the watching the characters deal with life without cell phones, without microwaves, without the internet, all the while constantly drinking, smoking, dealing with class envy, latent sexism, racism, many references to the "War" (meaning WW II) and 70's era concepts of "swinging". I'm sure Benchley thought his characters were pretty progressive, but almost 40 years later the attitudes are very amusing.
Between the 70's society study and a reasonably good monster story you can definitely enjoy this book, just leave your memories of the movie at the door!
Jaws reads like a cross between a Stephen King novel with a bit of Moby Dick thrown in. All in all, it wasn't too shabby. It sure wasn't serious literature by any stretch of the imagination, but it was worth a credit and the time spent listening to it. Sometimes you just want to be entertained!
Love a great book that stays with you long after you've finished it.
I had seen this movie years ago, but really found this book drew the best pictures in my mind. It is vividly written, although not a classic, it will forever be frightening. Author Peter Benchley does a fantastic job of describing the disturbing events caused by a massive shark, and how they tramatically effect the town people. Most attacks are not graphically described, if you are looking for that read Jaws 2. After being aquainted with Jaws who of us hasn't had a shudder run down their spine as something hits their leg in the murky ocean water???
I was fifteen when the movie was released, and I loved it then. I read the book shortly after seeing the movie, and I remember liking it. Thirty some-odd years later, I listened to the audiobook and loved it even more. The narration by Erik Steele was pitch perfect. I was transported back to the 70s, and it was a rollicking nostalgia trip. Peter Benchley definitely caught the spirit and attitudes of the time and somehow wove them into a story that is like Moby Dick meets Fear of Flying meets the Old Man and the Sea meets Godzilla! I am surprised that it took so long for this iconic piece of Americana to be published as an audiobook. My only regret is that I was unable to wait until beach season to give it a listen. It would be the perfect accompaniment for a long weekend by the ocean.
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
No review of Jaws could start off without mentioning the movie. I was eight at the time, so, while the rest of the family went to see it, my mom had to take me to Bambi. I remember coming out of the theater to find a woman crying and retching into a Kleenex, so distraught was she by Jaws. (My mom had to take me out of Bambi also: I just lost it when Bambi's mom got blown away by the hunter. Honestly? Between Bambi's mom dying and a freaked out shark, I think I would've handled the shark better.)
When I finally saw it, I thought it was great. And when I read it, I seem to remember finding it to be a good read.
So, it was quite disappointing to find that it just didn't age well. And by no means does it follow the movie. Which is just fine. I understand that. But the book has so many, many layers of the personal lives of the characters which, at first I appreciated. It's nice to have character development. It goes overboard though, and starts to drag. One wonders where the shark is. It is called Jaws, isn't it? The shark is supposed to be the main draw. The daily lives of the characters, their small and even large choices start to get in the way of the narrative, drag it down. Especially since the characters make some pretty poor choices that have nothing to do with the story. It just gets annoying. Who needs to know about a petty affair?
Imagine my surprise, also, when the real action starts, and I looked down and found that there were only six more minutes of the book. Talk about an abrupt ending!
I also had to listen to this at 1.25 speed as the narrator, Erik Steele, makes each line ponderous, with huge pauses in between sentences and concepts. He also has the voice of an anchorman. To his credit, though, is the fact that his dialogue really, really shines. His characterization of Quint is dead on and so very enjoyable, I could have listened to a book with only Quint all day long, as Steele brings him to life with such wonderful tones and a great accent.
Ultimately, this was a decent book, with decent writing and great action in sporadic scenes throughout. It left me hungry for more. Which is unfortunate because it really could've given more. A good enough read but unsatisfying when all is said and done.
Avid listener on my daily commute!
...I agree with previous reviewer John from Lafayette that the book is "unintentionally fascinating" nonetheless for the window it provides the reader into 1974-75 American society. It will make you grateful for how far we've come! Sure, racism and sexism are very, very far from over as I write this, in 2016. But at least no aspiring novelist today could hope to publish a work of fiction in which women are portrayed as either whores (who "just want to be serviced") or "dykes," and in which there are not just one but MULTIPLE references to the spectre of "a black man going around raping white women" (all of whom are so ashamed that "not one will come forward to testify") and women whose fantasies include "being raped by a black man." There's also a hefty dose of elitism here; the wealthy, well-educated white people who flock to the beaches in summer are said to be literally smarter (they "would score in the top ten percent of all mankind" if their "IQ's were to be tested en masse") than their less well-off townie counterparts. The modern reader will shudder with horror long before the shark (which as we can see now, in retrospect, constituted the least of Amity's problems) begins terrorizing young children and senior citizens at the beach.
But there are still lots of reasons to enjoy the story. The peek back into my childhood was fascinating; while the Brodys were clearly way "squarer" than my folks, and with way more rigidly defined gender roles, one or two of their dinner guests felt familiar, as did the casual (some might say obsessive) talk of "eating grass" and swinging. If you, too, remember the '70's with some nostalgia, recalling when TVs were "television sets," when it would be considered hilarious to quote commercials at dinner parties ("I can't believe I ate the whole thing!"), when a man who got angry was said to "blow his stack," and when gazpacho, Volkswagen Bugs, marinated meats, macrame, extramarital sex, and lesbianism were considered new and noteworthy, you may well love it. I also noticed new things in the story on this reading, namely the interesting similarities between Hooper and the shark. This Hooper is nowhere close to the adorable little styrofoam cup-crushing Richard Dreyfus character in the film. Even as he makes love to a woman, he stares straight ahead at the wall, senselessly thrusting long beyond the point of satisfaction, eyes unseeing. The woman literally has to remind him she is also present. By the time THIS Hooper gets "et," to use Quint's term, you'll be totally rooting for the shark to turn him into a tasty snack. Same with arrogant anti-environmentalist, beer swilling, gun-toting, dolphin-killing Quint.
Bechdel test: A dismal fail, I believe; Ellen does talk to Mrs. Whatsername at the post office, but I think that conversation is about Brody. OF COURSE.
I saved this listen for the beach vacation so I might have enjoyed it even more because of that - just fun. I was very surprised how different the book is from the movie. I rented the movie after the listen and plot varies greatly. I prefer the book. Much more backstory. Movie is great for suspense but listen to the book for a real story. Excellent narrator - great listen.
First read the book when it came out and read it more then once - great summertime read. At the time I was a young mom of three and vowed that my little ones would never swim in the ocean, of course, that vow was broken many times over. Decided that it would be a great summertime Audible book and I was right - love it - it is like visiting with an old friend - bringing back good memories. Also Erik does a great job.
***Some spoilers*** Man... I am so glad that the author allowed some screen writing liberties because if the movie would've followed the book very closely, the ending would have stunk. This book starts off very engaging, but quickly moves into a lengthy section regarding an adulteress affair of the protagonists wife. She is regretful of not having a life of notoriety and finds her marriage to the police chief unfulfilling, resulting in the adultery. During this section the shark is fairly inactive... resulting in a desire to skip ahead. In my opinion, this part does nothing to move the main idea of the story forward. The book does contain vulgar language and some sexual immorality. I really feel let down with the last chapter of this book because there are SO many unanswered questions: 1) Why did Jaws live? 2) What does this mean for Amity? 3) Does Brodie confront his wife? 4) What happened to Mr. Vaughn? I needed and expected closure via a dead shark!... like in the movie! It was ended so abruptly that I'm actually kinda angry. Anyway, the narration was awesome and I could listen comfortably at 1.5X speed. I hope this helps someone. Later.
The suspense never let up, but it wasn't just a suspense novel. It had great character development. This book is not dated. I enjoyed listening to it as much as I did reading it all those years ago. It's a much better book than it was a movie..
The moral dilemma.
Brody. He's the heart.
Why would I rename it. Who writes these questions?
I always find a book better than the film, and this classic is no exception. much more depth (no pun intended). much more story and a great sense of fear. Being unabridged there is plenty of time to get into the characters and to feel the terror creeping up on you. All in all a fantastic story.
Unfortunately, the oration is the downside of this audio book. The delivery is so slow I was convinced it would have fitted on one less CD, if read normally. Although he tries to give depth and character to novel, for me it was ost and at one point i found the delivery like listening to an audio language lesson. he has definately been influenced by the film and even tries to get his characters sounding like those from the Spielberg classic. This is a shame as some of the tones and characters used don't match with the written description. certainly one orator I will try to avoid in future.
"the movie is great...the book is very good"
Very good performance of a very good book. Differs from the movie in a number of ways that I wont spoil, enough to make it a worth while venture even if like me you've watched the movie multiple times.
"Narrater is excellent"
Best narrater yet, much recommended as the book is very different to the film. I was however humming the jaws theme tune whilst I was listening!
"One of my all time favourite books"
I would, the story is such a good one
As someone with a deep (and completely irrational!) fear of sharks, there is no comparison for me
I did not hate it, infact i quite liked it after a while. I thought he was quite slow going, but then i think that is probably how the characters are meant to be! By the end i had grown quite fond of Erik's voice
Love it when a smug someone gets what's coming to them! It is a plot that was changed in the film, so whenever I read or listen to this book i enjoy the 'full story' and the deeper characterisation
Dont listen to this to try to fall asleep!!
A fun listen, a good book though not a fantastic one. I always read a book fully expecting it to be much better than movie, but this time the clapperboard proved to be mightier than the pen. Erik Steele did a fine job and the narration would earn four stars from me.
Great story, never get bored of it even better than the film.
Good performance , David
brings back memories of reading years ago. A great story, stood the test of time.
"Book 4/10 Film 10/10"
The book was far less enjoyable than the film. After all, the title "Jaws" does suggest something out of the ordinary. Far too much time was spent on the relationships between characters, Ellen Brody taking centre stage in an almost gratuitously sordid and fairly unbelievable chapter! The supposed main character, the shark , seemed to be offered up as a sideline to the plot. Very little by way of suspense was evident within the pages. The book offered up the idea, The film took the idea and created a masterpiece.
The author could have concentrated on the title character! He really should have called the book, Ellen Brody! Spent far too much time on her character. Not enough on Quint.
Erik Steele was actually very good. We all have our favourites I suppose, and with that in mind I would have loved to hear Sir Anthony Hopkins tell the tale. He would probably make anything sound good! Doubt he was available though!
The book was just NOT for me. I dare say others may love it. It's all about different tastes. Peter Benchley, in my opinion, certainly benefited from a great film. I believe the film to be the true classic in terms of content and excitement.
It was interesting to learn more about the characters and motives behind the story and how different the book is from the Movie. Jaws is a wonderful twisted Moby Dick, man versus beast story.
"Durrrrrr duh. Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr duh."
Average narration voice
It is. And I have... About 20 times by now considering it's age.
The book just isn't the same without the famous theme music. You hear it in your head as the shark scenes play out but the book has considerably less suspense and spooky parts than Jaws the movie and it's high on impossible to not compare the two as the recording progresses.
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