Everyone in Jaws Sucks (Book Review)

Did you know that Jaws wasn’t just a Spielberg movie, but a best selling novel? Yeah, neither did I until recently. I decided to immediately read it as I had already planned on giving my boyfriend a shark themed birthday. Jaws is a movie classic that everyone should see, but so is the novel. Peter Benchley‘s novel of the same name, should also be on your TBR. It was a suspenseful novel and I loved the sections from the shark’s PoV. The novel exceeded my expectations! You expect that after seeing the movie, the suspense wouldn’t be there. However, things are written in such a way that makes you hold your breath even if you think you know what’s coming.

Assuming you have seen the movie or know what it’s about, the premise is the same. Big shark kills people. Two of the bigger changes were the romance and mafia sub-plots that didn’t make an appearance in the movie. The main characters are all there and have the same roles with minor changes except, the character’s were unlikable. In the movie, everyone is at least somewhat likable, even when making horrible decisions. However, in the book, there wasn’t a single person that I liked. In fact, I disliked them so much that I decided to make a full post about it.

You, who have never read Jaws, you who have only seen the movie, I can see you frowning, I can hear you saying to yourself, “Romance? Mafia? What’s he talking about? Where’s all that stuff?” Read on, please, and discover for yourselves.

Peter Benchley in the “Introduction to the 30th Anniversary Edition” in Jaws
Image from Bookstagram Background image of the beach and Jaws book cover in the forefront

Chief Martin Brody

Listen, Brody is a pushover. We can all agree on this, right? He knows the right thing is to close the beach after the first shark attack. But he caves to the pressures of people like Vaughan and Meadows. Three more people are killed before he gets the balls to close the beach. A couple days of no action and Brody is again pressured to open the beaches for the 4th of July and does. I want to remind you that Brody is the one who has the authority to close the beaches. He doesn’t need approval to do so. So, the beaches are open again. No one is really swimming until a boy is dared to by his friends. Brody had the chance to stop the boy from going in, but chose against it. As a result, the shark almost kills the kid. At the end of the day, Chief Brody made a lot of bad calls because of peer pressure and the threat of losing his job. Is it really that hard to do the right thing, Brody? I don’t think so.

The Cherry on Top

And for good measure, I’ll mention how Chief Brody was more obsessed with trying to figure out if Hooper slept with Ellen than he was about finding and killing the shark. Let’s move on people. 4 people are dead already and there was almost a 5th.

He had to take the blame, but it was not rightly his. It belonged to Larry Vaughan and his partners, whoever they might be. He had wanted to do the right thing; they had forced him not to. But who were they to force him? If he couldn’t stand up to Vaughan, what kind of cop was he? He should have closed the beaches.

About Chief Brody in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Wife Ellen Brody

Ellen is completely self-centered. I had no idea someone could be so self-centered when everyone around her is being eaten by a massive shark. She spends a majority of the book dreaming about the life she could have had if she hadn’t married Martin. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not like she was forced to marry Martin. She married for love. She WANTED to marry Martin and have the Amity life. However, she now feels this desperation to connect with her old life of privilege. Okay, I know I sound like I’m bashing someone for no reason. BUT SHE PLANS A DINNER PARTY WHEN 4 PEOPLE HAVE DIED IN 5 DAYS AND HER HUSBAND IS UNDER INCREDIBLE STRESS JUST SO SHE CAN CLING TO HER OLD LIFE OF SOPHISITICATION! Not only that, but she sleeps with Hooper out of boredom essentially. She doesn’t even realize how awful she is being until the last quarter of the book.

The past–like a bird long locked in a cage and suddenly released–was flying at her, swirling around her head, showering her with longing.

About Ellen Brody in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Reporter Harry Meadows

I kind of want to punch him in the throat for making everything worse. He purposefully left the first attack out of the paper. Then, later he blames the police and local government officials for hiding the first attack. He even put in a FAKE QUOTE from Chief Brody saying Brody chose to not close the beaches. MEADOWS KNEW AND MADE THE DECISION TO NOT WRITE ABOUT IT IN THE PAPER. Honestly, I can’t stand people and this whole thing makes me furious.

So it seems to me, Martin, that there’s no reason to get the public all upset over something that’s almost sure not to happen again.

Harry Meadows to Chief Brody in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Mayor Larry Vaughan

This is who I really wish would have been eaten by the shark. Just like all the townspeople, he was selfish. I mean COME ON! Yes, I understand the town will struggle. I get that the town gets the main bulk of income from the summer season. However, this is no excuse for not caring about human life. Vaughan is the one who brings the mafia subplot. It was pretty inconsequential and was just an excuse for why Vaughan was adamant on keeping the beaches open. The whole book basically, Vaughan is a jerk about people being killed by a shark. He only cares about himself and his mafia, real estate business partners. He may wither away to essentially nothing from stress, but he deserved a more gruesome death.

We do have one thing going for us. Miss Watkins was a nobody. She was a drifter. No family, no close friends. She said she had hitchhiked East from Idaho. So she wont’ be missed.

Vaughn to Chief Brody in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Researcher Matthew Hooper

Okay, listen. There is that argument that the person cheating is the only one responsible and not the person who they are doing the cheating with… if any of that made sense to you. However, Hooper was a total jerk for sleeping with Ellen. He knew she was married. He knew they didn’t have an open relationship. But he went ahead and encouraged it anyway. Most of the time Brody and Hooper are fighting over who has the bigger dick. Personally, I feel like he did it to have this secret one-up over Chief Brody.

That fish is a beauty. It’s the kind of thing that makes you believe in a god. It shows you what nature can do when she sets her mind to it.

Hooper to Quint and Chief Brody after seeing the shark in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Fisherman Quint

This is the only person I’m conflicted about. He seems like an okay person. I mean, he is unsympathetic completely. He charges $400 a day to take Hooper and Chief Brody out to try and kill the shark. Not to mention, he breaks fishing laws all the time. However, he has logical arguments for both so I let that go. What really made me pissed off is the scene where he splits a shark open at it’s stomach and throws it back into the water. He actually enjoyed watching the shark eat itself and even was looking forward to other sharks coming to eat the one he cut open. I get fishing for a living and doing what needs to be done. However, what Quint did was for pure amusement and that disgusts me.

If we’re lucky, in a minute other blues’ll come around, and they’ll help him eat himself. If we get enough of them, there’ll be a real feeding frenzy. That’s quite a show.

Quint talking to Chief Brody and Hooper after he cut a shark open and threw it into the ocean in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Despite all this, Jaws is a terrific book. It kept me on my toes and went way above my expectations! Sure, I didn’t like any of the characters, but there is something special about hate. I easily fall in love with characters and relate to so many. However, it takes a lot for me to dislike a character. There needs to be a level of realism for me to connect to in order to build that hatred. That being said, Benchley did an amazing job.

So tell me, who did you hate the most? Was there anyone you found likable? Do unlikable characters turn you away from a book?

Interested in more? I don’t only write about books! I also blog about my life. Maybe you’ve considered teaching in South Korea. Why not check out my dogs! They are pretty adorable ūüôā Either way, I hope my stories help make your day a bit more stupendous.