Comparing the Book No Exit by Taylor Adams to the Movie Adaptation

Hey bookworms! I’m super excited to be writing today’s blog post because I’m going to be able to rant about something I’m super passionate about, and that’s books being adapted into movies/TV shows! More specifically in this blog post, I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on the differences between No Exit the book and No Exit the movie adaptation, and trust me, there’s a LOT! I’m going to section off paragraphs based on three main topics: character development, plot, and setting!

*I want to disclaim that I will be revealing spoilers of both the book and the movie in this discussion, so maybe don’t keep reading if you want to read the book and watch the movie l first!

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Let’s get started!

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“On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate. Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one? Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape. But who can she trust?”

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Character Development

In the Book:

We are introduced to our main female character, Darby; an art student who is heading home in a snowstorm to see her dying mother before it’s too late. She and her mother don’t have the best relationship but she wants to ensure they patch some things up before it’s too late. As you know from the synopsis, she has to wait out the storm in a visitor center with 4 strangers and the fact that she tries to save the little girl trapped in a van automatically made me root for her and respect her mental and physical strength! I really loved her thought process while trying to decide her next moves to ensure Jay’s (the little girl’s) safety over her own! The way she could come up with these creative weapons since she didn’t have any real ones was mind-blowing to me and made me feel like there was hope for her and Jay to get out alive!

Our two main male characters are Lars and Ashley. As brothers, they could not be more opposite. Lars barely speaks and when he does he seems equally as smart as a 10-year-old boy. He follows Ashley around and does as he says to ensure his brother is happy and in control because he doesn’t know how to be. You can tell even from the start that Lars had no interest in hurting Jay and I think that’s because he could relate more to Jay, a 9-year-old, than to anyone else in the book! 

Ashley on the other hand is a complete sociopath. In the beginning, it’s unclear to Darby who the van belongs to, but she immediately suspects Lars over Ashley. However, we do come to find that Ashley and Lars work together, but Ashley is the brain and manipulator in their crime. Ashley at first seems very charming, but as the story progresses we find out that he’s desperate to win this war with Darby and is willing to kill everyone in the visitor center to ensure his Uncle Kenny gets Jay in one piece. The violent acts that Ashley does, such as breaking Darby’s fingers in a door hinge, was psychotic and perfectly describe his character’s motives.

When we meet Jay in the book, her character surprised me. She was very mature for a 9-year-old and was very helpful to Darby throughout their adventure to escape Ashley and Lars. At first, she was freaking out while locked in the van, but when Darby meets her and gives her a pocket knife to try ad break free from the ties, Jay immediately knows what she must do and she doesn’t give up. Later on in the book when Jay is free from the van, she also helps Darby in little ways to ensure that they both can survive this!

Ed was a very neutral character in the book. He doesn’t suspect anything and only knows what’s going on when he sees Jay walk into the visitor center and Darby explains to him what Lars and Ashley did. He was definitely one of the good guys in this book and I liked his character overall, but he wasn’t a big part of the story. 

Sandi on the other hand, Ed’s cousin, was an annoying character to me, both in the book and in the movie (which we’ll get to). You go through the entire book thinking she’s just as innocent as Ed until Jay recognizes her as her school bus driver, and then Darby becomes concerned that she’s involved. Once Sandi can tell she’s suspected, she pepper sprays Darby and tries to threaten Ed to stay out of it to ensure that Lars and Ashley can bring Jay to Uncle Kenny so she can get her cut of the money for helping them receive medications for Jay. They were never supposed to meet, but she didn’t have a choice once the plan came to a crossroads, and she brought her cousin Ed as a way to cover up anyone’s suspicions. 


In the Movie:

This is going to be rough to talk about because the movie is so different from the book in many ways. For example, they completely changed Darby’s character and made her into a drug addict who breaks out of rehab to see her mother on her death bed. She still obviously gets caught in the storm and is trapped there with the four strangers, but during the entirety of the movie there was less creativity with weapons (which I will discuss in Plot section), and she was less composed and more scared, which made her character feel more real, yes, but also not as badass as how I envisioned her in the book!

Lars was pretty accurate to what I imagined from the book, except they definitely had his character talking a lot more in the movie, which felt odd. I would also say Ashley was represented well too, he was sociopathic and determined to kill anyone who got in his way of bringing Jay to his Uncle Kenny. The only other thing that I disliked about these characters was how different they looked…as brothers, it just felt odd how they were cast because they looked nothing alike.

Jay was super disappointing for me in the movie. Similar to Darby, she was less badass and less willing to help Darby to escape. While she did help her during one of the last scenes by turning off the light, that was basically all she did and their relationship didn’t feel as genuine as it did in the book. Lastly, we know in the book that Jay’s family is wealthy, but in the movie, they corresponded Jay’s wealth with her being an annoying, spoiled brat which was really sad to watch versus Jay’s down to Earth personality in the book!

Ed was a completely different character in the movie. I think I actually liked that he was suspicious of Lars and Ashley from the beginning, but knowing that that’s not how Taylor Adams originally wrote it made me dislike it more. He was adamant about going outside a lot to see what was going on with Darby, Lars, and Ashley, but Sandi kept ensuring him it was probably nothing. When they locked all of the doors to the visitor center to ensure Lars and Ashley couldn’t get in close to the end, I enjoyed seeing Ed be a leader and protect the girls, but he was still just as oblivious in the movie as he was in the book because he had no idea Sandi was involved. 

That brings us to Sandi, which was such a disaster for a character in the movie. While she was still involved with the kidnapping and did have medical experience similar to the book, in the movie she was actually Jay’s maid which made her way more involved in Jay’s life than I would have pegged. It wasn’t exactly spoken about in the movie, but I’m almost positive that Ed and Sandi were in a relationship in the movie which made the dynamic a lot weirder to me…like how could you risk any of your loved one’s lives like that?! And lastly, she does pepper spray Darby but also threatens to pepper spray Ed which was crazy. Her character was weak and strong at the same time and I found her acting pretty mediocre. 

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In the Book:

This plot revolves around 5 strangers at a visitor center during a snowstorm, and one of the strangers has kidnapped a 9-year-old girl, and she’s trapped in a dog cage in their van. The main female character, Darby, is the only one who finds this information out and goes through the thought process of who the kidnapper might be, and saving the little girl without getting killed by the kidnapper.

There were a few aspects of this book that stuck out to me. The first being that the only weapon Darby has is a pocket knife, her keys, and a makeshift “rock in a sock”. I loved how she had to get creative with her weapons in order to try and escape from the kidnapper’s threats. Another aspect is there was a main escape route in the book; a window high on the wall in the women’s bathroom and this route really helped Darby survive. of Lastly, I loved the gore aspect of this book. I loved that one of the kidnappers weapons was a nail gun; it made it more evident just how psychotic they are. There’s also a part in the book where the kidnapper knows Darby is an art student and decides to break her fingers in the door. All of these gruesome chapters in the book allowed me to root for Darby more and more!


In the Movie:

Here’s where things get devastating😂… The general aspects of the plot, such as there’s a kidnapper and Darby finds the little girl, is all the same! However, some of those aspects discussed above from in the book were massively different in the movie!

For example, Darby breaks out of rehab and actually steals tools to break into a car, therefore providing her with potential weapons right away. She has a hammer, box cutter, and screw driver, to name a few! Another thing that really bothered me was how different the torture scenes were; for example, instead of Darby getting her fingers broken in a door, Ashley (the kidnapper) nail guns her WRIST into the wall!!!! Like what?!?! So as you can see there were many big differences and I haven’t even named all of them by a long shot!

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In the Book:

Obviously you can’t truly say what the setting looked like based on a book only, but what I envisioned was a small visitor center with one main room and bathrooms. I envisioned a rundown, normal women’s washroom with a window high up that’s open and in construction. I also envisioned a really bad snowstorm where it was too difficult to even walk in.


In the Movie:

I will honestly say that the movie’s setting wasn’t bad, but it was definitely much more extravagant than I imagned. There was a pretty big parking lot in front of the visitor center and the building was also big! It had more of a newly constructed feel to it with glass doors, and inside the main room was very large and nicer than I was expecting. The biggest difference by far though was the women’s washroom! In the movie, the women’s washroom was under construction, yes, but there was a huge construction lamp for lighting and the window wasn’t even a window, it was a hole at the bottom of the wall…

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I can tell you right now, without a doubt, that I enjoyed the book soooo much more! I rated the book a 5/5 stars and I rated the movie a 1/5 stars! If I had never read the book and only watched the movie, I could see myself giving it more of a 2.5 star rating, but because I knew the original storyline, this movie was tragic! I highly recommend you don’t watch this movie, especially if you’ve read the book!

Comment down below a movie or TV adaptation that you actually enjoyed!😂 Thank you so much for reading today’s comparison review of No Exit by Taylor Adams, and I hope you have a wonderful upcoming week! ❤

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Jess Lagace
Jess Lagace
8 months ago

So, i watched the movie before i read the book, why? You may asked ! Because i was worried that the book was “too scary” to read so I decided to watch the movie first and knew that i could turn it off if it became too intense. Now when i finished the movie I thought “wait ? Was she dreaming about this all along? Was she high and it never happened?” Anyway these questions made me want to read the book to find the answers… so i started the book and quickly realized that my questions will actually never be answered ! Sadly, I just never finished the book because i thought it was a difficult story to follow (especially because it was writing at the third person).

I would actually rate the movie 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️