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In 1993, Scott Smith wowed readers with A Simple Plan, his stunning debut thriller about what happens when three men find a wrecked plane and bag stuffed with over 4 million dollars--a book that Stephen King called "Simply the best suspense novel of the year!" Now, thirteen years after writing a novel that turned into a pretty great movie featuring Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton, Smith is back, with The Ruins, a horror-thriller about four Americans traveling in Mexico who stumble across a nightmare in the jungle. Who better to tell readers if Smith has done it again than the undisputed King of Horror (and champion of Smith's first book)? We asked Stephen King to read The Ruins and give us his take. Check out his review below. --Daphne Durham
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
Starred Review. At long last, Smith follows up his bestselling first novel, A Simple Plan (1993), the film of which received an Oscar nomination for best screenplay, with a stunning horror thriller. Four American friends on vacation in Cancún, Mexico—Jeff, Amy, Eric and Stacy—meet a German tourist, Mathias, who persuades them to join his hunt for his younger brother, Henrich, last seen headed off with a new girlfriend toward some ruins. The four soon regret their impulsive decision after they find themselves lost in the jungle and freaked out by signs that they're headed for danger. Smith builds suspense through the slow accretion of telling details, until a deadly menace starts taking its toll, leaving the survivors increasingly at each other's throats. While admirers of such classic genre writers as John Wyndham or Algernon Blackwood may find the horror less suggestive than they might wish, the eerie atmosphere and compelling plot should appeal to fans of ABC's hit TV series Lost, who will help propel this page-turner up bestseller lists. Ben Stiller's production company has bought film rights. 100,000 first printing. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
My wife recommended this read after talking about the film. The Ruins and A Simple Plan are both great reads.Published 24 days ago by tim
A great horror novel! I enjoyed this book and the sleepless nights it gave me when I read too long. A must read for any horror fan.Published 1 month ago by Hana Stephenson
An ugly, sadistic tale. If, as a child, you enjoyed pulling the wings off butterflies -- and still do -- then you'll enjoy this story. Everyone else should ignore it.Published 2 months ago by Alun Whittaker
This was a terrible book. 200+ pages could have been cut out of the book without changing the story. I finished the book on the hope that it would get better. It didn't. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kathy Poplawski
This book is my guilty pleasure. It is a horror read but not very scary it is more disgusting fun. It is a pretty easy read and the writing is only decent but I love this book. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Laura
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 3 months 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 4 months 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