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Publisher's Summary

Jaws is the classic, blockbuster thriller that inspired the three-time Academy Award-winning Steven Spielberg movie and made millions of beachgoers afraid to go into the water. Experience the thrill of helpless horror again - or for the first time! 

Jaws was number 48 in the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Movies, and the film earned the coveted number-one spot on the Bravo network's 100 Scariest Movie Moments countdown. 

This timeless tale of man-eating terror that spawned a movie franchise, two video games, a Universal Studios theme park attraction, and two musicals is finally available on audio for the first time ever!

©2002 Peter Benchley (P)2009 BBC Audiobooks America

What listeners say about Jaws

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    5 out of 5 stars

Classic in its own right.

This book was fantastic, mainly because I successfully read it as it’s own story, instead of comparing it to the film. As a monster story it is unparalleled, & really is thrilling to read.

1 person found this helpful

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Phenominal

Different from the film in parts. The narrator, Eric Steele, does an amazing job at capturing the cadence and nature of each famous character. Immensely enjoyed this book. Cant wait to read more Benchley tales from the deep.

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  • wonder woman
  • 08-06-2018

You're Gonna Need A Better Book

I'll start out by saying that yes, I grew up in New England watching Jaws all my life, so I am absolutely accustomed to the characters and story the way Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb wrote it for the screenplay. So, by all means, feel free to take my review with a grain of salt (or a shot of apricot brandy). I have always wanted to read the book that the movie was based on knowing that books are usually even better than the films adapted from them. But honestly, this is one rare example where that is simply untrue. I'm going to get into a bit of SPOILER territory here, so be warned... * * * * * * * * * * While most of the differences between the book and the film are hard to get used to at first, they didn't ruin the story for me. (Brody is an islander in the book, Hooper and Ellen have a history, Quint hardly makes an appearance until part three of the novel). It makes it interesting to see how the story was originally written vs. how they decided to write it for filming. What did bother me was how Ellen Brody was written. The entire second part of the book is riddled with her frustrations and annoyances that come across as, at best, female stereotypes, and at worst, demeaning to women and offensive. (No, not every woman fantasizes about being raped, thank you very much). I also felt like Benchley wrote himself into a corner; Ellen and Hooper have an affair to liven up Ellen's doldrum-ridden life. Martin suspects something odd is going on, but never actually confirms any of it before the book concludes. We have all this build up with a third of the book being about Ellen's feelings of being dissatisfied, and then Benchley wraps up her anguish in a matter of a few lines. She just suddenly realizes how good she has it and suddenly she's snapped out of her depression in the matter of moments. It's just far-fetched and stereotypical of women and their too-often implied hysterias. I suppose part of the issue is the dated ideas on sex and intimacy, but another problem for me was just how it was all written. Descriptions and word usage were clumsy and odd ("He screamed, an ejaculation of hopelessness.") Sometimes the dialogue came across as very natural and other times it was so stiff it was painful to hear. I have to give credit to Erik Steele who did a good job of reading the book (his Quint was reminiscent of Robert Shaw's with a touch of pirate-like fun), but even his performance couldn't save such a lackluster story for me. The conclusion of the novel happens in a similar way to Ellen Brody's dilemma... it just sort of winds down and stops. Again, we have so much build up to this confrontation and then barely see a showdown. Hooper gets eaten like some half-assed astronaut in his anti-shark cage, even though he has a weapon to use against the great white. (The under-water gun is barely mentioned once he goes into the ocean). Quint and Brody battle the shark, (which takes them days where they go back to shore and head back out on The Orca). Then, out of nowhere, Quint gets dragged into the ocean with the dying great white and they both sort of float away into nothingness while Brody kicks his way back to shore on a flotation device from the sunken Orca. It's sort of a letdown, honestly. I am grateful that Benchley wrote the Jaws novel and that someone along the way thought it would make a great film. It certainly did! And while I am happy to have powered through the novel thanks to a talented performance, I can't say it was completely enjoyable or that I'd ever read it again. I think it's important to read the books that movies are based on to get a sense of where these characters started, but Jaws truly is a exception to the rule that the book is always better.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • John M
  • 21-07-2010

Fascinating, but not for the obvious reason

I read this book many years ago and knew it differed from the movie, but I thought it would be fun to listen to the audiobook version. First off, yes - the movie is much better than the book - not because the book is awful, but rather because the movie is just so good and memorable. And it is true the dialogue Benchley's puts in his character's mouths is not particularly natural and there are many redundant sections throughout.

(Do note, however, that this book did spend 40 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller list and sold 20+ million copies, so someone certainly liked it!)

However, the book is unintentionally fascinating as a view into mid-1970's US society. I really enjoyed the watching the characters deal with life without cell phones, without microwaves, without the internet, all the while constantly drinking, smoking, dealing with class envy, latent sexism, racism, many references to the "War" (meaning WW II) and 70's era concepts of "swinging". I'm sure Benchley thought his characters were pretty progressive, but almost 40 years later the attitudes are very amusing.

Between the 70's society study and a reasonably good monster story you can definitely enjoy this book, just leave your memories of the movie at the door!

46 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kyle
  • 23-01-2010

Actually....it was pretty good.

Jaws reads like a cross between a Stephen King novel with a bit of Moby Dick thrown in. All in all, it wasn't too shabby. It sure wasn't serious literature by any stretch of the imagination, but it was worth a credit and the time spent listening to it. Sometimes you just want to be entertained!

21 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Gillian
  • 31-03-2014

Oh, How Disappointing…!

No review of Jaws could start off without mentioning the movie. I was eight at the time, so, while the rest of the family went to see it, my mom had to take me to Bambi. I remember coming out of the theater to find a woman crying and retching into a Kleenex, so distraught was she by Jaws. (My mom had to take me out of Bambi also: I just lost it when Bambi's mom got blown away by the hunter. Honestly? Between Bambi's mom dying and a freaked out shark, I think I would've handled the shark better.)
When I finally saw it, I thought it was great. And when I read it, I seem to remember finding it to be a good read.
So, it was quite disappointing to find that it just didn't age well. And by no means does it follow the movie. Which is just fine. I understand that. But the book has so many, many layers of the personal lives of the characters which, at first I appreciated. It's nice to have character development. It goes overboard though, and starts to drag. One wonders where the shark is. It is called Jaws, isn't it? The shark is supposed to be the main draw. The daily lives of the characters, their small and even large choices start to get in the way of the narrative, drag it down. Especially since the characters make some pretty poor choices that have nothing to do with the story. It just gets annoying. Who needs to know about a petty affair?
Imagine my surprise, also, when the real action starts, and I looked down and found that there were only six more minutes of the book. Talk about an abrupt ending!
I also had to listen to this at 1.25 speed as the narrator, Erik Steele, makes each line ponderous, with huge pauses in between sentences and concepts. He also has the voice of an anchorman. To his credit, though, is the fact that his dialogue really, really shines. His characterization of Quint is dead on and so very enjoyable, I could have listened to a book with only Quint all day long, as Steele brings him to life with such wonderful tones and a great accent.
Ultimately, this was a decent book, with decent writing and great action in sporadic scenes throughout. It left me hungry for more. Which is unfortunate because it really could've given more. A good enough read but unsatisfying when all is said and done.

32 people found this helpful

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  • JE
  • 01-09-2020

Spielberg is a genius.

How can a book this boring, pretentious, poorly written, corny, disgusting, aimless, and idiotic be turned into such an epic movie? Spielberg is a legend. He took a story filled with shallow, stupid, selfish, despicable ass holes, and totally reimagined it. This is the version of Jaws where you actually pull for the shark! It’s a damn miracle it became the film we all know and love. No one in this book, and I mean NO ONE is likable or well written. It’s a shallow collection of weak, selfish, amoral, pompous, idiotic, boring, losers who bare no resemblance whatsoever to the fantastic and lovable cast of characters from the Jaws film apart from their names. The chief is a weak, boring, oafish asshole. His wife is a pathetic, selfish, adulterous, bitch. Hooper is a shallow, despicable, corny, douche bag. The characters are one dimensional, the pacing is all over the place, and the dialogue is both unnatural, bizarre, and boring all at once. Even the shark attacks are boring. It’s truly a testament to Spielberg’s genius that he could spin this total piece of shit into such an incredible film. I love Jaws the film. This book literally depressed me. It is that awful. You get the feeling reading this book that the author is a pretentious, self important ass, and he owes Spielberg everything for turning his trash into gold. Read it if you want to marvel at one of the only times in history that a terrible book was turned into a great film, but if you’re expecting the story from Jaws the movie, well, this ain’t it, chief.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Axl Bradshaw
  • 04-06-2020

bad story but quality performance

This book aged like milk. If you are a fan of the movie or are in anyway critical of the stories you consume you will be bitterly disappointed. however the same cannot be said for Erik Steele's performance which was excellent and brought like to these otherwise dull characters.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jim B.
  • 28-08-2018

Watch the movie it’s way better

The book is a short read which was nice but it dragged on in some of the most boring details. Virtually zero suspense and the ending was so anticlimactic I nearly fell asleep. Seriously the movie is 1000% better and far more worth your time

6 people found this helpful

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  • Neil Clark
  • 03-09-2020

I wish I hadn't ruined the memory of the movie.

Pretty disappointed. Seemed like the author tried to write a soft core porn in the middle of a semi serious book. Not being a prude but it did not seem to fit. I am a fan of the movie but the book was not my favorite.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • B.E. Goode
  • 14-07-2019

listened to long, dumb, boring parts at 2.3x.

Peter Benchely's novel is not well-written. It meanders all over the place to storylines meaningless to the actual shark story. Its subplots, all cut from the film, are taking up dozens of pages to make a more substantial group of papers betwen two covers so as to sell more books I guess. And many of his character choices, endearments (or lack thereof) and depictions, pale in comparison to the movie. This is near cardboard city when it comes to the characters. When they aren't cardboard, they're bound to be dumb in some way. I seriously doubt Benchely had much of an influence on the movie's screenplay. Carl Gottlieb had his hands full adapting this one. I hope Gottlieb was at least nominated for some awards for that effort. The very basic bare bones, burn off the garbage, plot was a million-dollar idea and I wish I got it first!!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Charles
  • 04-06-2009

The Perfect Book for the Beach

I was fifteen when the movie was released, and I loved it then. I read the book shortly after seeing the movie, and I remember liking it. Thirty some-odd years later, I listened to the audiobook and loved it even more. The narration by Erik Steele was pitch perfect. I was transported back to the 70s, and it was a rollicking nostalgia trip. Peter Benchley definitely caught the spirit and attitudes of the time and somehow wove them into a story that is like Moby Dick meets Fear of Flying meets the Old Man and the Sea meets Godzilla! I am surprised that it took so long for this iconic piece of Americana to be published as an audiobook. My only regret is that I was unable to wait until beach season to give it a listen. It would be the perfect accompaniment for a long weekend by the ocean.

14 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • M Smith
  • 19-10-2016

Good book

A fun listen, a good book though not a fantastic one. I always read a book fully expecting it to be much better than movie, but this time the clapperboard proved to be mightier than the pen. Erik Steele did a fine job and the narration would earn four stars from me.

6 people found this helpful

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  • chris
  • 15-06-2016

the movie is great...the book is very good

Very good performance of a very good book. Differs from the movie in a number of ways that I wont spoil, enough to make it a worth while venture even if like me you've watched the movie multiple times.

5 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 06-09-2016

Classic

Great story, never get bored of it even better than the film.
Good performance , David

8 people found this helpful

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  • Steffiwinkle
  • 17-08-2015

One of my all time favourite books

Would you listen to Jaws again? Why?

I would, the story is such a good one

What other book might you compare Jaws to, and why?

As someone with a deep (and completely irrational!) fear of sharks, there is no comparison for me

What about Erik Steele’s performance did you like?

I did not hate it, infact i quite liked it after a while. I thought he was quite slow going, but then i think that is probably how the characters are meant to be! By the end i had grown quite fond of Erik's voice

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Love it when a smug someone gets what's coming to them! It is a plot that was changed in the film, so whenever I read or listen to this book i enjoy the 'full story' and the deeper characterisation

Any additional comments?

Dont listen to this to try to fall asleep!!

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Trekkie Monster
  • 16-05-2015

Surprisingly good

I really enjoyed this audiobook. It was my first time listening to Erik Steele and I like his performance greatly.
Even though I've seen the movie more times than I can count and know the story and script better than Spielberg there is still extra subplots in the book and extended scenes than the film version making the book well worth getting if you've an interest in the film or if you just like swimming with bow-legged women. :)

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-06-2016

love it!

brings back memories of reading years ago. A great story, stood the test of time.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nicholas
  • 08-10-2015

Jaws forever

It was interesting to learn more about the characters and motives behind the story and how different the book is from the Movie. Jaws is a wonderful twisted Moby Dick, man versus beast story.
Very enjoyable.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Edward Whelan
  • 16-09-2015

Narrater is excellent

Best narrater yet, much recommended as the book is very different to the film. I was however humming the jaws theme tune whilst I was listening!

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Howard
  • 24-05-2009

mixed view

I always find a book better than the film, and this classic is no exception. much more depth (no pun intended). much more story and a great sense of fear. Being unabridged there is plenty of time to get into the characters and to feel the terror creeping up on you. All in all a fantastic story.

Unfortunately, the oration is the downside of this audio book. The delivery is so slow I was convinced it would have fitted on one less CD, if read normally. Although he tries to give depth and character to novel, for me it was ost and at one point i found the delivery like listening to an audio language lesson. he has definately been influenced by the film and even tries to get his characters sounding like those from the Spielberg classic. This is a shame as some of the tones and characters used don't match with the written description. certainly one orator I will try to avoid in future.

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous
  • 19-02-2018

Dated sexist and racist writing

The narrators performance was very good but I was very disappointed with this story. The plot wasn't suspenseful or gripping. The commentary on the New York social classes felt like a poor imitation of The Great Gatsby or The Catcher in the Rye. Most distracting was the suggestion that all high school girls dream of being prostitutes and most married women have fantasise about being raped! Not to mention the implication that most rapist are black. It doesn't feel like these are the views of the characters but more like the very ignorant and dated views of the writer. Racist and homophobic undertones coupled with poorly developed characters and sexist soap opera plots make it very hard to focus on the what should be the main focus of this...the shark! The highlight of this story is the description of the shark at the beginning. It's a shame it doesn't sustain the tone. I do not recommend this at all, it's possibly ruined the film for me now too.

5 people found this helpful

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