Ryan Sutton’s review published on Letterboxd:
I wasn't planning on writing a book review for this but through a series of events, I'll actually be seeing this cult-classic tonight at my local cinema. Obviously, I'm beyond excited so I figured I'd share my thoughts on the novel.
Reading this book adds so much background and backstory to the film's characters and the motivation of the town wanting to keep the beaches open. Spielberg actually omitted quite a bit from the novel. Some of it, I feel, could have worked in the film but overall his choices were smart and he definitely chose wisely keeping some stuff out.
In the book, the characters, aside from Brody, are all terrible people. Spielberg actually stated, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I found the character's were so unlikable and horrible people, and felt that I had to change some aspects of them in order for audiences to like them." In some ways I agree but in others I don't. One thing I actually really dug about the book was how the characters and their motivations weren't so black and white. There were layers and reasons to their decisions. For example, Brody dealt with lots of guilt. His wife, Ellen, has a totally different twist and arc to her character. Same with Hooper. So in some cases, I agree but the book gave me a cool perspective of which to view the film tonight and in the future.
They always say that the book is better than the movie but in this rare case, I actually think the book elevates the film. No spoilers, but the ending to the book was very disappointing and sub-par in my opinion. Overall though, this was a really great book and one of the better works of literature that I've read.
BOOK SCORE : 9.5/10