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Jaws by Peter Benchley

--Staff Picks


Peter Benchley
Published: 1974
Age Range: Adult
Genre: Horror

Just in time for Shark Week. Have you read the book that started it all? Before the iconic movie there was this book published in 1974 and written by Peter Benchley. If you can get past the egregiously dated language and attitudes of the 1970s, this book makes entertaining beach reading or can help extend the fun of Shark Week.  

The book plot is more detailed and more nuanced than that of the movie. Plus, surprisingly, it has a lot to say about class differences in the small coastal town of Amity.  And about how monied interests can and do take precedence over human interest—up to and including human life. 

That’s not to say that the book is better than the movie. I mean, it’s a Spielberg classic. But the book adds more characters with more detailed characterization and some changes and additions to the plot that were left out of the movie in favor of more terrifying scenes featuring the Great Toothed Fish.   

This novel is a fun read for anyone who is curious about the book that inspired the movie that terrified millions and began our fascination with sharks. It’s good for fans of thrillers, horror, and stories featuring body horror and gore.