The novel sticks fairly close to the final film, although it does contain some extra subplots. The novel contains a subplot in which Hoagie is a government agent and he transports laundered money. The only reference to this in the film is when Michael Brody asks "What do you do when you’re not flying people?" to which Hoagie replies, "I deliver laundry." In Searls' novel, the character of Jake is ultimately killed by the shark; Jake was originally supposed to die in the film, but the script was changed to allow him to survive.
The novelization suggests that the shark may be acting under the influence of a vengeful voodoo witch doctor (who has a feud with the Brody family), and the shark's apparent revenge has magical implications. Therefore, the witch doctor is the 'revenge' and the shark is his tool. This also explains the strange psychic connection Ellen and the shark have with each other. The plot was deleted as it strayed too far away from the plot of the killer shark. However, at one point in the theatrical version, Michael Brody says, "Come on, sharks don’t commit murder. Tell me you don’t believe in that voodoo."
The novelization also presents a continuity that combines elements from Peter Benchley's Jaws novel as well as the Jaws film series. The novelization makes a reference to Ellen Brody's affair with Matt Hooper, a subplot that exists in Benchley's novel but is entirely absent from the film adaptation.