This is my first P.D. James novel and I will certainly read another. She spends a good deal of time developing her main character. Kinda getting in their skin.
I saw the movie before reading the book. They are very different. The movie has much more action and ends totally different then the book. The film versions charming Jasper played by Michael Cain has only a very minor part here. Theo's ex-wife also has a diminished role in the book and is merely another law abiding citizen.
Turns out I like both film and book versions because they vary so much. I fact, nothing in the book will spoil the movie or vice versa.
A very frightening, chilling tale about how mankind reacts to the knowledge of its sure extinction. What was most disturbing to me was how quickly the human race devolved into a group of uncaring, bored, apathetic, selfish, savage creatures in such a short time with the horrifying realization that there was no hope whatsoever that humankind would continue to inhabit the earth when the present population was gone. It made me wonder what the tiny thread of hope is that we cling to that keeps us (at least in our own minds) from being no better than savage animals. Is it faith? knowledge? prosperity? For we know that when things such as these are missing (Darfur, for example) we really are savages.
This was the first book I ever read by James, and by far my favorite. Very insightful, much deeper than one might think. I read the book long before seeing the movie. I thought the movie was an excellent adaptation, but had to be changed in order to suit the motion picture medium. Regardless whether you read or watch first, I recommend doing both and expecting the book and movie to be different.