No doubt, you have seen the movie Jaws. I mean, who hasn't? It's a classic movie with a concept that scared thousands of people out of the water. But, did you know it was based on a book? You did? Alright, well aren't you just so smart. Peter Benchley wrote the book Jaws and it was published in 1974. Clearly, I don't have to tell you how popular it became. But was the book any good? Well, yes and no. At least, in my opinion.
I read Jaws several years ago and have to say it completely captivated me. I finished it in one day. The characters were amazing and realistic. I actually found myself hating Hooper and Sheriff Brody's wife, Ellen. The thought of them in the book disgusted me. Which is an amazing testament to Mr. Benchley's writing style as he was able to evoke real emotion from me.
*Note, from here on out there will be spoilers for both the book and the movie. Swim at your own risk!*
I would highly recommend this book but suggest you read all the way up to the very end. Right up to when the shark attacks the Orca. Stop right there. Put the book down. And watch the end of the movie. That's where the book, at least for me, falls apart.
In the movie, there's the epic struggle with the shark as it destroys the boat and eats Quint, much like the book. However, Hooper was eaten by the shark the day before in the book. It's for the best. He was a dick. Of course, we all know Brody's famous line as he shoots the oxygen tank stuck in Jaw's jaws. (Was the shark named Jaws? I think someone should have named it Jaws. Makes sense to me) "Smile you son of..." KABOOM! Shark dead. Blood, guts, and blubbery debris rain down from the heavens. Cool, right? Well the book....well....it sucks. I just don't like it.
Quint's dead, Brody is floating on debris from the Orca. He peers into the water and sees the shark swimming towards him, mouth agape. He readies himself for death but suddenly....the shark dies. Yup. It. Just. Dies. You see, they had thrown several harpoons into the creature before hand and it only now succumbs to its wounds, just in time to not eat the main character.
Is it a more realistic ending? Yes. Is it an exciting one? No! To me, it felt like the author originally wrote an ending where Brody was eaten by the shark and continued on its way until it later died in the ocean, like many sharks before it. But then he had a change of heart and let Brody live. Which meant, having the shark die in the most anticlimactic way possible. Of course, the explosion wouldn't have been as impressive in the book but maybe we could have had something in between. You know, Brody jabs it in the eye for a final time with a spear and it dies. Would have been a lot better. For a book with so much built up conflict, it felt like the end puttered out. Ultimately, it was a great book but the ending was better in the movie.
What did you think? Did you read Jaws? Did you like the ending? Did you hate it? Let me know your feelings in the comments below! Thanks for reading and remember, keep wandering. Just not alone.
Evan Bond, author of To the Wolves and Death Can Wait, is a thriller/suspense author. When not writing, he can be found hiking or camping in the beautiful state of Florida.