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Beast Mass Market Paperback – May 23, 1992

45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, along comes Architeuthis , a giant squid, the eponymous beast of Benchley's latest tale. At an estimated length of anywhere from 30 to 90 feet and armed with two predatory tentacles, a huge, snapping beak and eight writhing arms, each lined with razor-sharp hooks; the giant squid has been wreaking havoc off the coast of Bermuda. By the time the protagonists--Bermuda native Whip Darling and Navy helicopter pilot Marcus Sharp--figure out what sort of beast they're dealing with, Architeuthis has killed five people. As they ponder this carnage, both men remember another scary fish story, Jaws --Marcus recalls "parents refusing to let their children get their feet wet," while Whip proclaims, "Whenever I hear talk about monsters, I think about 'Jaws.' " This monster, unfortunately, is not nearly as scary as the one they remember so vividly, because the reader comes to know it too intimately. Each time the squid prepares to attack its next unwitting victim, we are given an in-depth, close-up view of the beast, usually in a separate chapter. This technique, used sparingly (as it was in Jaws ), can be a heart-stopper, but overindulged, as here, it robs the narrative of dramatic tension. Worse, the author's own references to his more memorable work only serve to emphasize the weaknesses of his newest.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-- Small boats are ripped apart, their passengers vanish, divers disappear, and partially eaten body parts are found. Because Bermuda's waters are depleted, Architeuthis Dux (giant squid) turns to the residents and tourists as its primary food source. Whip Darling, local marine expert with a boat for hire; Lt. Marcus Sharp, Navy pilot and amateur oceanographer; Dr. Herbert Talley, foremost authority on the giant squid; and media magnate Osborn Manning, whose two offspring fell victim to the squid, form an alliance to track down and destroy it. Beast is set in an ocean community filled with bumbling officials and red tape. The monster terrorizes the island, gobbling up its citizens and forcing a group of experts to join forces to combat it. Benchley has combined interesting, colorful characters with a surefire plot, producing another of the well-written, well-researched sea adventures at which he excels. However, its similarity to Jaws (Doubleday, 1974; o.p.) lessens its impact. --John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett (May 23, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449220893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449220894
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #841,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Squid vs. Shark....definitely squid. Beast is a spine-tingling tale about a 100 ft giant squid that menaces Bermudian waters and develops a taste for human flesh after it's normal food source, other creatures of the deep, are almost completely fished out. After a number of failed attempts to stop and destroy the creature, it is up to a local fisherman, the story's hero named Whip Darling, to use his wits to fight it.
Beast is incredibly well written, especially the dialogue. It's characters are very real (such as St. John, a corrupt, Irish politician; Osborn Manning, a father turned vengeful after his two children are killed by the eight-armed creature; Talley, a Canadian squid expert; Sharp, a young Navy officer), and the story is quite believable, and it's ending is NEVER expected. It's also a really fast read. Three nights tops.
If you liked Jaws, you'll like Beast about fifty times more. Beast is NON-STOP ACTION, and one thing I really liked about the book is how much Benchley researched the animal known as the giant squid (Architeuthis dux). Many times during the novel he expresses and shows what and how the squid thinks and how it feels, making the story more interesting on both antagonist AND protagonist sides (the best example being when the giant squid tries to defend itself as it is attacked by a pair of sperm whales).
What's also interesting is how well Benchley depicts the characters. For example, Whip Darling, the main character and hero of the story, is, as one would assume, quite a good man. Perhaps too good. Now, one would probably think, "No one's THAT good or THAT caring." However, Whip Darling is. He is a true "good - guy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sleeper30 on March 14, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is Peter Benchley's best book ever. An Architeuthis - a giant squid - creates horror and fear off the coast of Bermuda. Whip Darling and his friend Marcus Sharp figure out who responsible for this madness and must confront the huge beast, which knows no fear. Dark, scary, creepy with excellent writing, supern characters and incredibly tight action, this book delivers on all levels. I wish Benchley would write more such classics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kara J. Jorges VINE VOICE on September 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are several things that set this book apart from most monster books I've read: subtlety, realism, and environmentalism, to name a few. Even though there weren't pages and pages of carnage in this book, it was a compelling read and had very likeable characters with personalities.

This is not only the story of a giant, man-eating squid who terrorizes Bermuda, it is also the story of Whip Darling, a proud yet impoverished man doing what he needs to get by, barely scraping up enough cash to pay the bills. Whip had been a fisherman, until Bermuda's waters were fished out, now not bearing enough fish for anyone to make a living. Whip uses his boat to make a buck any way he can: trapping deepwater oddities for an aquarium, tourist charters, salvage; whatever keeps the wolf from the door. Whip knows the waters of Bermuda like no one else, so when a giant squid starts eating people, Whip is given many offers to go after the beast, but he knows no amount of money is worth it if he's dead. Media magnate, Osborn Manning, whose children were devoured by the squid, has to pull out all the stops, but even he and his squid expert prove to be no match for the monster from the deep.

The plot is nothing new to monster book lovers, but Benchley takes the time to craft some very likeable characters: Whip Darling, his first mate Mike, navy pilot Marcus Sharp, even the unlikeable characters are well-drawn, no matter how much or how little they appear. He falls short of making the giant squid outright evil, but this character, too, has a malevolent personality. His no-nonsense environmental message is not preachy, and all the more powerful for it, as it is woven through the action while the tension builds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Greg Hirst on June 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If anyone is going to write a worthwhile rip-off of Peter Benchley's classic thriller JAWS, it might as well be Peter Benchley, and I promise you, he has.
A novel about a giant squid chowing down on the Burmuda ocean-going population isn't exactly high literature, but by that token, neither was JAWS. If you have read and appreciated JAWS, then you should also love BEAST, unless you are a stickler for originality. But the fact is this, while nothing will ever touch JAWS, BEAST (at least in its book version) is the best thing-in-water thriller since 1975, and I write as of 2003. (The TV miniseries itself is every bit as good as JAWS 2, for that matter)
This book covers all the basic cliches (attack on boats, scuba divers, beachgoers, non-human victims, the close-call that no one realizes how close it was, and final boat confrontation), some of which were totally origial as 1993. But Benchley does them as well as any author ever has. His style is taut and unique, always full of tension.
Benchley doesn't skimp the human department either. And as far as this kind of fiction goes, his human relatoins are near-perfect. The mood of BEAST, like JAWS, is tense and moody; characters tend to be on the down-and-out side of life, unhappy with things and people, but still easy to identify and sympathize with. The sour, grim moods add tension and urgency to the plot-progressing moments between attack sequences, which probably aren't that impressive nowadays, but hardly boring.
This is a return to familiar terrirtory for Benchley, and it's better than the pulpy, 70's and 80's ocean thrillers he was writing, which are even more gritty and sour, but without the characters and excitement. BEAST'S tense writing style and characters also make for some pretty amusing dialogue.
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