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But enough. The new book is here, and the question devotees of A Simple Plan will want answered is whether or not this book generates anything like Plan's harrowing suspense. The answer is yes. The Ruins is going to be America's literary shock-show this summer, doing for vacations in Mexico what Jaws did for beach weekends on Long Island. Is it as successful and fulfilling as a novel? The answer is not quite, but I can live with that, because it's riskier. There will be reviews of this book by critics who have little liking or understanding for popular fiction who'll dismiss it as nothing but a short story that has been bloated to novel length (I'm thinking of Michiko Kakutani, for instance, who microwaved Smith's first book). These critics, who steadfastly grant pop fiction no virtue but raw plot, will miss the dazzle of Smith's technique; The Ruins is the equivalent of a triple axel that just misses perfection because something's wrong with the final spin.
It's hard to say much about the book without giving away everything, because the thing is as simple and deadly as a leg-hold trap concealed in a drift of leaves or, in this case, a mass of vines. You've got four young American tourists--Eric, Jeff, Amy, and Stacy--in Cancun. They make friends with a German named Mathias whose brother has gone off into the jungle with some archeologists. These five, plus a cheerful Greek with no English (but a plentiful supply of tequila), head up a jungle trail to find Mathias's brother the archaeologists and the ruins.
Well, two out of three ain't bad, according to the old saying, and in this case; what's waiting in the jungle isn't just bad, it's horrible. Most of The Ruins's 300-plus pages is one long, screaming close-up of that horror. There's no let-up, not so much as a chapter-break where you can catch your breath. I felt that The Ruins did draw on a trifle, but I found Scott Smith's refusal to look away heroic, just as I did in A Simple Plan. It's the trappings of horror and suspense that will make the book a best seller, but its claim to literature lies in its unflinching naturalism. It's no Heart of Darkness, but at its suffocating, terrifying, claustrophobic best, it made me think of Frank Norris. Not a bad comparison, at that.
One only hopes Mr. Smith won't stay away so long next time.--Stephen King
I must admit, I was only vaguely aware of the book when the movie THE RUINS came out in 2008. I saw the movie shortly after its release, thought it was decent enough, and that was... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Brian Fatah Steele
Good book. A lot like Stephen king books, you really get detailed story and get to know the characters.Published 1 month ago by RON B.
I give this 3.5 stars.
I enjoyed the concept of this book very much and I also thought the writing was just fine. My problem was with the characters. Read more
Might make a good horror movie. Believe it has been optioned or is in production. As a novel it's a big letdown after "A Simple Plan. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gerry Robinson
This may have been one of the best suspense horror books I've ever read, and this is after reading folks like Laymon, Ketchum, Keene, Hill, and King. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Wendy Oconnell
The characters seemed more like outlines to me, and I only became invested because the book was so long. Their backstories were too simple and didn't draw me in enough. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Red Thomas
I read the book 'Ruins' and thought it was gruesomely scary BUT it is stolen almost exactly from a short story written in the fifties or sixties. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Samantha
I plodded through this book awaiting an explanation as to the origin of the vines, the motive of the vines, the relationship between the Mayans and the vines, anything to justify... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kenneth T. Connors