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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
Awesome. I had watched the movie first and loved it ... the book, for once, was no exception.Published 3 days ago by Jenifer Bartolomei
WOW. I' not that fast a reader but I finished it in 3 days. It was suspenseful and I couldn't stop until I found out what was going to happen to the group. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Russell King
This book just grabs you and drags you right into the nightmare along with the characters. There are no chapters as we usually recognize them to break up your journey, so its hard... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Sam Clemens
The length of the book was appropriate; in fact, it read well and was well paced. Yet, the book had no outlook beyond an artificially narrow scope. Read morePublished 1 month ago by John Young
I really liked this book much more than I expected to even. The storytelling is good and the style of writing fits the subject. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jennifer
I wanted to read this after reading the wonderful Simple Plan. Even though the ratings were not so go, wanted to give it a try. It was too long and going no where. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Diane
I found this book engrossing and terrifying for several reasons.
First of all the characters. They're not particularly likeable; they're very ordinary and uninteresting. Read more