A 1991 novel by Peter Benchley (author of Jaws), Beast deals with a series of attacks on Bermudan shipping and swimmers by a hungry (and aggressive) giant squid. It was adapted into a film in 1996 under the slightly changed name of The Beast.In both versions, the main character is Whip Darling, a longtime Bermuda fisherman. Despite his occupation, Whip deeply loves the ocean and the creatures in it, and has no respect for those who refuse to fish sustainably. He is also a realist, and makes every effort to steer clear of the would-be squid hunters, correctly predicting that such an expedition can only end in failure. Eventually however, Whip's need for money causes him to be drawn into the expedition, alongside longtime friend Marcus, Canadian scientist Dr. Herbert Talley, and Corrupt Corporate Executive Osborn Manning, leading to a final, climactic confrontation with the monster.Tropes Appearing In This Book Include:
Animal Wrongs Group: The extremely misguided "Save-The-Squid" crowd. As Whip puts it, "Architeuthis dux is doing a fine job of saving itself."
Anyone Can Die: And they do - up to and including Whip's lifelong friend and first mate Mike.
Chainsaw Good: After the squid sinks the boat, Whip fends it off with a chainsaw, severing several of its limbs, before the monster disarms him.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: A surprisingly sympathetic version. Osborn Manning has a lot of money and he certainly throws his weight around, what with blackmailing Whip into helping him. That said, he's also got a very understandable motivation: his son and daughter were killed by the squid and he wants revenge.
Corrupt Politician: Liam St. John is a classic case, using his Ph.D. (the only one on the island) to lever himself into every marine affair in Bermuda, and rake in as much publicity and grift as he can. That is, until he decides to turn the squid into another publicity stunt, and the squid gets other ideas.
Deus ex Machina: The squid sinks Whip's boat, kills Osborn Manning, and nearly gets Talley, Marcus, and Whip when a sperm whale erupts out of the water and tears it in half.
Eaten Alive: The fate of anyone with the extreme misfortune to run into the squid when it's hungry. Thankfully, the book's got quite a few literary Gory Discretion Shots, once the squid gets its hooks into someone.
The End... Or Is It?: The squid is dead, yet as the epilogue shows, more and more of them are being born every year.
Extreme Omnivore: Put chum or other food in the water, and the squid gets very easily confused as to what's organic and what's inorganic, which leads to multiple boat attacks and proves fatal for everyone aboard the submersible, too.
Foreshadowing: Mike, Whip's first mate, is wholly freaked out by the very idea of the squid, in a way far out of character for him. Turns out he was right to be afraid.
Gaia's Vengeance: Why is the squid here? Well largely because we've killed off most of the animals that eat them when they're babies (tuna, sharks, sea turtles), and most of the animals that eat them when they're adults (sperm whales), and all the food at the bottom of the ocean that they normally eat. That's right kids: we're increasing the numbers of one of the few animals that can fight us on relatively even terms.
I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Marcus' girlfriend was killed by a box jellyfish. He's pretty much defined by it. And then, just as it seems he might be moving on with photographer Stephanie, she's killed by the squid.
Its Pronounced Tropay: Whip is especially annoyed by Liam St. John pronouncing his last name "sinjin," like a Brit.
Jerkass: Osborn Manning, though he does have more principles than one might expect from a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Liam St. John is a straight example, and a moron to boot.
The Juggernaut: The squid. This isn't too far off from Real Life either. There really isn't much that human made weapons can do to an animal that's that big and has no bones or easily targetable organs.
Karmic Death: It is heavily implied that the whale that kills the squid is the mother of the baby one that it devoured earlier.
Laser-Guided Karma: Liam St. John finally pulls one know-it-all publicity stunt too many, toys with the monster, and gets himself, Marcus' new girlfriend, Whip's first mate, and everyone else on the submersible killed. Even in death, he made sure to take just about everyone you came to care about with him.
Mythology Gag: Whip mocks Jaws, one of Benchley's other works, as being BS - essentially an Author Tract, as Benchley himself came to regret the horribly bad rap Jaws gave Great White Sharks.
Poisoned Weapons: The only way that people can kill the squid. St. John uses a poisoned harpoon and a giant poisoned bang stick, Osborn Manning uses an AK-47 in which phosphorus bullets have been replaced with cyanide.
Science Is Bad: Whip chastises himself for putting faith in science, saying "The only thing scientists admit is what they know. What they don't know - what might be, all the stuff in the in the realm of the possible but unproven - they dismiss as myth." On the other hand, Dr. Talley averts this, and is as helpful as he can be.
Science Marches On: Some of the traits of giant squid as presented in the book (most notably the hooks inside the suckers) have since been established as traits of the similar (and larger) colossal squid. This is a minor quibble however; after twenty+ years, most of the material Benchley presents holds up quite well.
Smug Snake: Liam St. John; Osborn Manning might count too.
Super-Persistent Predator: The squid ends up like this after Manning, Talley, and Whip first trick it into believing there's a mate nearby, and then try to kill it. In general, it's also one of the only sea animals that generally will not leave you alone if you leave it alone - it's extremely aggressive when hungry, which is almost all of the time.
Too Dumb to Live: Dr. Liam St. John, who first tries to kill the squid with dynamite, then rents a submarine...and promptly wastes one of his weapons on killing a shark instead of on the squid, leading to his death and that of his entire crew.
Tragic Monster: The squid may be big, violent, and destructive, but Benchley makes a point of showing that it's only an animal in an unfamiliar environment, doing what it has to in order to eat.