- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (July 18, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400043875
- ISBN-13: 978-1400043873
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 1,208 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Ruins Hardcover – July 18, 2006
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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
Guest Reviewer: Stephen King
Stephen King is the author of too many bestselling books to name here, but some of our favorites include: Cell, The Stand, On Writing, The Shining, and the entire Dark Tower series. King also received the National Book Foundation 2003 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, has had many movies and television miniseries adapted from his novels, short stories, and screenplays, and is a regular columnist for Entertainment Weekly. Keep your eyes peeled for Lisey's Story (October 2006), a new television series on TNT based on Nightmares & Dreamscapes (July 2007), and a graphic novel series based on the Dark Tower books coming from Marvel (2007).
When I heard that Scott Smith was publishing a new novel this summer, I felt the way I did when my kids came in an hour or two late from their weekend dates: a combination of welcoming relief (thank God you're back) mingled with exasperation and anger (where the hell have you been?). Well, it's only a book, you say, and maybe that's true, but Scott Smith is a singularly gifted writer, and it seems to me that the twelve years between his debut--the cult smash A Simple Plan--and his return this summer with The Ruins is cause for exasperation, if not outright anger. Certainly Smith, who has been invisible save for his Academy Award-nominated screenplay for the film version of A Simple Plan, will have some 'splainin to do about how he spent his summer vacation. Make that his last twelve summer vacations.
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
From Publishers Weekly
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)
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Top customer reviews
What intrigued me about this book is how six people can so quickly get into dire trouble. It isn’t just about a vine … it’s about human nature. Are you a follower or a leader? How would you react in a life/death situation? How well do you know your friends? Or yourself for that matter?
The writing is so intense at times that I had to stop reading and take breaks. I watched the movie once more after I finished the book and despite their differences, both forms of media are outstanding. There are 2 times in the book where the author goes on a bit too much (at least in my opinion) but I quickly skimmed through those. This book is well worth the money.
The reason for the vine isn’t clear .. I saw a trailer online about how it’s a curse or something. The book offered some ideas. This bothered me until I got to the end. That’s when it occurred to me… it doesn’t matter what caused it. I’d have to ask why the idea of fire wasn’t pursued further but that's not enough to ding a star. Critics say the plot isn't plausible... lots of horror stories aren't plausible! This is a great book.... my only advice is not to eat while reading as it is not lighthearted fare.
Not only is the story disturbing in the horrible circumstances the friends find themselves in, I kept asking myself how I would have acted if I had been part of the group. They all stay pretty much in character, which begs the question: how would anyone act when in what may be a hopeless situation? Are you always completely faithful to your partner when drunk? Sober? When you have decisions to make that impact not only your life, but those of friends and near strangers, what do you choose to do? Do you take chances? Are you loyal? Selfish? A leader? Or a follower who gives up? How do you act when your faith in yourself and your loved one is tested?
These questions kept me guessing about my own character, while I kept anxiously reading, curious and fascinated as to what the answers might be.
Most recent customer reviews
Is a must read!!!!!!!!! 👍😁