Reviewed by C.J. Bunce
For the Fourth of July that is arriving on the heels of the fortieth anniversary of the premiere of the blockbuster movie Jaws, what better time for a summer reading of Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel that the movie is based on?
Well it was a good notion.
And it’s the notion in the novel Jaws–the premise–that fortunately inspired scriptwriter Carl Gottlieb, and Benchley himself–to both expand the novel, and more importantly, whittle it down, into such a finely executed, classic film.
But wait, Jaws was a bestseller! A book that was on everyone’s bookshelf in the early 1970s! Who doesn’t remember that book cover, and who didn’t sing the praises of that book?
The first third of the novel is quite good, exciting reading that fans of the film will be familiar with: The death of a young woman at night swimming with her boyfriend in the northwest beach community of Amity, the politics of Chief Brody and the Mayor keeping the beaches open, and the subsequent death of a boy and lambasting of Brody by the boy’s mother for not closing down the beaches after the first death. The introductory chapters really set up the reader for a wild ride.
Unfortunately from there the story drifts off course and never returns to the excitement of the set-up.