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 changed in the sea’s rhythm. It did not see the woman, nor 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 nerve detected vibrations and signaled the brain. The fish turned toward shore.
Copyright ©1974 and copyright renewed 2002 by Peter Benchley. Introduction copyright ©2005 by Peter Benchley
Rediscover the book that single-handedly terrified beachgoers everywhere. The thrilling tale of a resort town besieged by a great white shark, Peter Benchley’s Jaws endures as a cultural phenomenon, but if you’re only familiar with the film version, you’re in for a surprise. The novel contains many twists that were omitted in the movie. Marine biologist Matt Hooper, for example, has a predatory side lurking just under the surface; Police Chief Martin Brody faces dangers not just on the sea but also on land; and the town of Amity hides secrets more insidious than you know.
A gripping tale of terror and suspense, Jaws is as compelling today as when it was first published. Don’t miss this chance to read the book that started it all.
Hardcover Book : 320 pages
Publisher: Random House Inc. ( May 12, 2011 )
Item #: 13-387734
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.8inches
Product Weight: 13.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
This is the book that launched the film that made us all afraid to go in the water! (And don't tell me that you can't instantly come up with John WIlliam's ominous theme music!)
Having seen the film multiple times (and having experienced the "ride" at Universal Studios,) I wasn't expecting too much to be surprising in the novel. I was wrong. Although the movie's plot follows the book fairly faithfully, what I was surprised with was the amount of tension that I felt while reading the book even though I mostly knew how things would turn out.
Peter Benchley's prose is not overly descriptive, but powerful in it's simplicity. His characters are realistic and believable and he masterfully builds the tension and suspense throughout his tale giving the audience many big moments leading up to a powerful crescendo at the end.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this familiar tale even more than I anticipated and will definitely be checking out more of Peter Benchley's work in the near future.
This was a good book regardless of the movie, which I've seen a zillion times (ok ok). Very well done, and yes, there are a few plot lines left out of the movie, worth a read, I've read it twice and would read it again.
Reviewer: Amy H
I originally read this book before I watched the movie. Normally when a book is made into a movie the book is the better of the two as far as I am concerned. This was not the case with Jaws. The book was okay, but it gets too bogged down in "soap opera" plot lines.
Reviewer: Barbara G