is not a book for lazy readers. If you think you can worm your way out of a book report by watching the movie, for example, you'll likely fail; the book is vastly different than the film version.
While the film is condensed and jumpy, the novel prefers to let the action take a back seat to character development and examination of cultural and social customs. In fact, it's amazing just how much they cut from the book. It's sad, really. There were some interesting devices at work, including a love triangle the movie completely ignores (which, had it been implemented, would have completed Messalah's character arc quite neatly) and a great deal of religious detail that serves as a nice literary framing device.
If you enjoyed the movie, you might appreciate reading Ben Hur
, but be warned: it's quite lengthy and probably not exactly what you were expecting.