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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
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 17 days 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 26 days 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 2 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
Great book, even the movie follows closely with the book, a great read for a summer break.Published 3 months ago by Alison
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 3 months ago by Gerry Robinson