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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
The Ruins by Scott Smith is a novel that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page and closed the book. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Glen McDonough
If you enjoy dark books, this is for you! I loved the author's character development. Not a book that you recommend to a more gentile audience...Published 1 month ago by Robert Gamble
What better way to have a send off to start University than a trip to Mexico? For couples Jeff and Amy, and Eric and Stacy it seemed the perfect get away before each goes on their... Read morePublished 1 month ago by P. Newhart
I can't even describe the level of sinister. The sneaking terror that builds slowly until you're surrounded in desperation to leave the ruins.Published 1 month ago by Bethany
Not for readers who want everything to tie up in a nice pretty bow. I loved this book. I do agree that there could have been some better choices in certain areas, but the ending... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Raechel Alexis Gasparac
Are you a horror fan? Do you like novels that will make you squirm and look around you at every day things, and make you wonder...what if??? Read morePublished 2 months ago by Christian Burch
My wife recommended this read after talking about the film. The Ruins and A Simple Plan are both great reads.Published 3 months 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 3 months ago by Hana Stephenson