Jaws: A Novel by Peter BenchleyJaws: A Novel by Peter Benchley

Jaws: A Novel

byPeter Benchley

Paperback | August 6, 2013

see the collection Tales of Horror

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The classic suspense novel of shark versus man, which was made into the blockbuster Steven Spielberg movie. The Jaws phenomenon changed popular culture and continues to inspire a growing interest in sharks and the oceans today.
 
When Peter Benchley wrote Jaws in the early 1970s, he meticulously researched all available data about shark behavior. Over the ensuing decades, Benchley was actively engaged with scientists and filmmakers on expeditions around the world as they expanded their knowledge of sharks. Also during this time, there was an unprecedented upswing in the number of sharks killed to make shark-fin soup, and Benchley worked with governments and nonprofits to sound the alarm for shark conservation. He encouraged each new generation of Jaws fans to enjoy his riveting tale and to channel their excitement into support and protection of these magnificent, prehistoric apex predators.
 
This edition of Jaws contains bonus content from Peter Benchley’s archives, including the original typed title page, a brainstorming list of possible titles, a letter from Benchley to producer David Brown with honest feedback on the movie adaptation, and excerpts from Benchley’s book Shark Trouble highlighting his firsthand account of writing Jaws, selling it to Universal Studios, and working with Steven Spielberg.
 
Praise for Jaws
 
“A tightly written, tautly paced study of terror [that] makes us tingle.”The Washington Post
 
“Powerful . . . [Benchley’s] story grabs you at once.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“Relentless terror . . . You’d better steel yourself for this one. It isn’t a tale for the faint of heart.”The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“Pure engrossment from the very opening . . . a fine story told with style, class, and a splendid feeling for suspense.”Chicago Sun-Times
Peter Benchley began his career as a novelist in 1974 with the publication of Jaws, which was made into a hugely successful film. His other books include The Deep, The Island, The Girl of the Sea of Cortez, “Q” Clearance, Rummies, Beast, White Shark, and Shark Trouble. He was also a speechwriter for President Lyndon Johnson and a journ...
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Title:Jaws: A NovelFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:352 pages, 7.99 × 5.17 × 0.72 inShipping dimensions:7.99 × 5.17 × 0.72 inPublished:August 6, 2013Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345544145

ISBN - 13:9780345544148

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Much Deeper So I always enjoyed this book as THE summer shark book. Every time the weather gets warm I crack this out as a welcome to summer book. And every time I do, I love it that much more. I am finding it is so much deeper than a man hunting a shark who is hunting along this town, it is a man hunting the loss of control he has in his own life. I grew up loving the movie, so scary and thrilling for a child. As an adult I LOVE this book, way better than the movie, which now looks empty and lacking complexity.
Date published: 2018-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A true classic I love sharks, and although there weren't as many scenes as id like, i am still in love with this book
Date published: 2018-07-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Movie is better Very hard to create the same level of suspense and horror without that iconic music! I enjoyed reading Jaws, but I am glad they left the wife's story out of the movie. It took up too much space and slowed down the storyline.
Date published: 2018-07-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The movie was better. The book was decent but the movie is so much better. This book was not terrible or anything, I just found the movie made better changes to the characters and plot. With the book the plot focuses on other aspects other than the shark attacks. Not bad but not a great book.
Date published: 2018-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Much better than the film, although the movie gives faces to the characters.
Date published: 2018-03-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An intense story of a killer shark A little more gruesome than the film, this book is pretty intense and well written. Not wonderful, but still a worthwhile read.
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jaws Not as great as its film version, but still decent
Date published: 2017-08-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Good, but not great. The film is way, way better. Tighter and faster paced.
Date published: 2017-04-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from 3.5. Just watch the movie It was so interesting to see all the differences between the movie (forever a favourite of mine) and the book. Peter Benchley’s novel is such a more complex and bleaker version than the film with different scenes, a different focus (marriage troubles vs a shark), and ending for both the characters and the great white (and thank god the film left Ellen Brody in the background. Could not stand her in the book). However, I don’t know if it’s because I read the book so long after I first watched the movie (and rewatched it nearly 100 times), but Spielberg’s rendition will always be so much better in my opinion. Originally gave it a 3.5 star
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it Not as good at the movie but still pretty good
Date published: 2017-01-10

Read from the Book

1   The great fish moved silently through the night water, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail. The mouth was open just enough to permit a rush of water over the gills. There was little other motion: an occasional correction of the apparently aimless course by the slight raising or lowering of a pectoral fin—as a bird changes direction by dipping one wing and lifting the other. The eyes were sightless in the black, and the other senses transmitted nothing extraordinary to the small, primitive brain. The fish might have been asleep, save for the movement dictated by countless millions of years of instinctive continuity: lacking the flotation bladder common to other fish and the fluttering flaps to push oxygen-bearing water through its gills, it survived only by moving. Once stopped, it would sink to the bottom and die of anoxia.   The land seemed almost as dark as the water, for there was no moon. All that separated sea from shore was a long, straight stretch of beach—so white that it shone. From a house behind the grass-splotched dunes, lights cast yellow glimmers on the sand.   The front door to the house opened, and a man and a woman stepped out onto the wooden porch. They stood for a moment staring at the sea, embraced quickly, and scampered down the few steps onto the sand. The man was drunk, and he stumbled on the bottom step. The woman laughed and took his hand, and together they ran to the beach.   “First a swim,” said the woman, “to clear your head.”   “Forget my head,” said the man. Giggling, he fell backward onto the sand, pulling the woman down with him. They fumbled with each other’s clothing, twined limbs around limbs, and thrashed with urgent ardor on the cold sand.   Afterward, the man lay back and closed his eyes. The woman looked at him and smiled. “Now, how about that swim?” she said.   “You go ahead. I’ll wait for you here.”   The woman rose and walked to where the gentle surf washed over her ankles. The water was colder than the night air, for it was only mid-June. The woman called back, “You’re sure you don’t want to come?” But there was no answer from the sleeping man.   She backed up a few steps, then ran at the water. At first her strides were long and graceful, but then a small wave crashed into her knees. She faltered, regained her footing, and flung herself over the next waist-high wave. The water was only up to her hips, so she stood, pushed the hair out of her eyes, and continued walking until the water covered her shoulders. There she began to swim—with the jerky, head-above-water stroke of the untutored.   A hundred yards offshore, the fish sensed a change in the sea’s rhythm. It did not see the woman, nor yet did it smell her. Running within the length of its body were a series of thin canals, filled with mucus and dotted with nerve endings, and these nerves detected vibrations and signaled the brain. The fish turned toward shore.   The woman continued to swim away from the beach, stopping now and then to check her position by the lights shining from the house. The tide was slack, so she had not moved up or down the beach. But she was tiring, so she rested for a moment, treading water, and then started for shore.   The vibrations were stronger now, and the fish recognized prey. The sweeps of its tail quickened, thrusting the giant body forward with a speed that agitated the tiny phosphorescent animals in the water and caused them to glow, casting a mantle of sparks over the fish.   The fish closed on the woman and hurtled past, a dozen feet to the side and six feet below the surface. The woman felt only a wave of pressure that seemed to lift her up in the water and ease her down again. She stopped swimming and held her breath. Feeling nothing further, she resumed her lurching stroke.   The fish smelled her now, and the vibrations—erratic and sharp—signaled distress. The fish began to circle close to the surface. Its dorsal fin broke water, and its tail, thrashing back and forth, cut the glassy surface with a hiss. A series of tremors shook its body.   For the first time, the woman felt fear, though she did not know why. Adrenaline shot through her trunk and her limbs, generating a tingling heat and urging her to swim faster. She guessed that she was fifty yards from shore. She could see the line of white foam where the waves broke on the beach. She saw the lights in the house, and for a comforting moment she thought she saw someone pass by one of the windows.   The fish was about forty feet from the woman, off to the side, when it turned suddenly to the left, dropped entirely below the surface, and, with two quick thrusts of its tail, was upon her.   At first, the woman thought she had snagged her leg on a rock or a piece of floating wood. There was no initial pain, only one violent tug on her right leg. She reached down to touch her foot, treading water with her left leg to keep her head up, feeling in the blackness with her left hand. She could not find her foot. She reached higher on her leg, and then she was overcome by a rush of nausea and dizziness. Her groping fingers had found a nub of bone and tattered flesh. She knew that the warm, pulsing flow over her fingers in the chill water was her own blood.   Pain and panic struck together. The woman threw her head back and screamed a guttural cry of terror.   The fish had moved away. It swallowed the woman’s limb without chewing. Bones and meat passed down the massive gullet in a single spasm. Now the fish turned again, homing on the stream of blood flushing from the woman’s femoral artery, a beacon as clear and true as a lighthouse on a cloudless night. This time the fish attacked from below. It hurtled up under the woman, jaws agape. The great conical head struck her like a locomotive, knocking her up out of the water. The jaws snapped shut around her torso, crushing bones and flesh and organs into a jelly. The fish, with the woman’s body in its mouth, smashed down on the water with a thunderous splash, spewing foam and blood and phosphorescence in a gaudy shower.   Below the surface, the fish shook its head from side to side, its serrated triangular teeth sawing through what little sinew still resisted. The corpse fell apart. The fish swallowed, then turned to continue feeding. Its brain still registered the signals of nearby prey. The water was laced with blood and shreds of flesh, and the fish could not sort signal from substance. It cut back and forth through the dissipating cloud of blood, opening and closing its mouth, seining for a random morsel. But by now, most of the pieces of the corpse had dispersed. A few sank slowly, coming to rest on the sandy bottom, where they moved lazily in the current. A few drifted away just below the surface, floating in the surge that ended in the surf.    

Editorial Reviews

“A tightly written, tautly paced study of terror [that] makes us tingle.”—The Washington Post   “Powerful . . . [Benchley’s] story grabs you at once.”—The New York Times Book Review   “Relentless terror . . . You’d better steel yourself for this one. It isn’t a tale for the faint of heart.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer   “Pure engrossment from the very opening . . . a fine story told with style, class, and a splendid feeling for suspense.”—Chicago Sun-Times