I watched the movie for an American mystery class in college. I bought the book in an omnibus for that class as well, but reading this particular book was not one of the requirements, so I just now got around to it.
If I recall correctly, the background events are completely different between the book and the movie. Except for Ruby. I think they were more interesting in the movie. I also found it strange that the book really downplayed how tired everyone would be. I felt exhausted just watching the movie, but in the book, it didn't seem like what they were doing was that difficult.
In the end, when Gloria asks Robert to shoot her, it just seemed to me like he made his decision too easily. It should have been harder for him to bring himself to end the life of his friend. I also can't help thinking that it was really selfish of her to ask him to do that. There was no attempt to keep him out of trouble. He had so many dreams and aspirations and instead he is executed as a murderer. On the other hand, I do have sympathy for Gloria and I wish she'd have been able to get the help she needed.
I really like the design of the pages as the judge's sentence is slowly revealed, in larger and larger font, between each chapter.
Honestly, I don't really know how I feel about this book. The story is interesting, but sad in a way that is slightly frustrating...
Also, I just want to state that the Gilmore Girls episode named after this book was definitely one of my least favorite episodes. I couldn't possible hate Jess any more than I did during that episode and I believe it was at that episode that I officially decided I didn't like Dean either. In case anyone was wondering... ;)