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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
As a maya fan, after watching the movie, I liked it and decided to read the original novel. This novel doesn't disappoint me! Read morePublished 7 days ago by Pascotam
Just wanted to add another 5 star review. I've been reading horror since 1980 and found this book to be enjoyable.Published 9 days ago by 2sportswag
And I loved it. I read it in three days. A group of college kids stumble upon a grassy mound in a Mexican jungle. Trapped by Mayans and stealthy killers, they struggle to survive. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Melissa Reese Etheridge
I liked the Ruins, I think they made a movie from the book, I would recommend this book its fast reading, If you like Stephen King books you'll like The Runis!!Published 2 months ago by Janet Pinnavaia
I am appalled at the 1 star/poor reviews of this novel. This is easily one of the best horror novels I have ever read. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Couldn't ask for anything more. Not sure why it only has 3 stars but definitely doesn't deserve it.Published 2 months ago by Timothy McGivney
Great book, really haunting. Gets pretty long in the middle towards the end, but is really good all around.Published 2 months ago by Winnie
This book arrived with a massive stank of smoke, couldnt even read it the book smelled so bad.Published 3 months ago by Christopher R.