This movie gripped me in my stomach and heart and still hasn't let go. I dislike when folks compare the original book to movie: but here I go.
I read the novel; I saw the movie. It's rare when I say, "I THINK THE MOVIE IS BETTER THAN THE BOOK." There! I said it and I mean it.
In the movie, I got to really know ETHAN (Thomas Dekker), hence I was with him all the way and feeling his anguish and hopelessness. Dekker added so many levels to this character: what an actor. I want to see what else he does in the future (and that's him writing and singing the closing credits song.)
The novel did not focus too much on Ethan; its' chapters give everyone equal story time. Ethan was less fleshed out than the others: a disappointment when I read the book. However, Thomas Dekker, and the film adaptation, had me totally WITH Ethan. I'm hurting for months after seeing this flick. And the ending, in both book and movie, seemed inevitable and honest.
The character CINDY (Lynn Collins) is so real -- I swear--I've dated young woman like her. Collins plays it for real and she's fascinating to watch on screen.
To sum up: I thought the movie's emotional IMPACT was much more powerful than the novel.
One of my few gripes of the movie version is the character ROXANN (Kate Walsh). Her movie character is played like a one-note lesbian who looks pissed most of the time. Typical Roxann scene: when Jane's pregnant daughter-in-law asks Roxann if she wants a bite of her hot-dog, Roxann's snarls, "I don't do dick." That about sums up her movie character. And it's not even a funny line. Whereas in the novel, Roxann is more fleshed out (her hobby is bees, hives, making honey, reflecting on the inevitable death of drones and and protecting the queen bee, etc.) Lazy screen writing turned Roxann into some cliched "painter/artist": Yech! Some movie characters were combined (The D.A., in movie, was a combo of Judge Rosenthal and D.A Kraft: both characters in the book). I do miss Judge Jack Rosenthal in the flick: he's a poignant character in the novel and adds more levels to this piece: he questions God, his faith, the law, etc. But, when one adapts a screenplay from a novel, trade-offs must be made for dramatic impact: and this film packs a wallop of an impact.