Like most people have said, the book is very different from the movie. For me, this didn’t mean I liked the book less. I liked the movie and I enjoyed the book as a completely separate thing. The only disappointment for me is that the Roux character isn’t nearly as hot in the book as the Johnny Depp version in the movie.
I don’t think the movie gave any indication that the story would be semi-magical realism, either, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it in the book. I think it gives the story an extra dimension that I really appreciate.
One of the themes of this book is how easily dogma can turn into dictatorship. This feels timely for me. Telling the story from two perspectives gave me some insight into the reasons that some people despise outsiders.