|
Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

The Ruins > Wiki

Wiki

In 1993, Scott Smith wowed readers withA 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 thatStephen Kingcalled "Simply the best suspense novel of the year!" Now, thirteen years after writing a novel that turned into apretty great moviefeaturing Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton, Smith is back, withThe 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 readThe Ruinsand 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 smashA Simple Plan--and his return this summer withThe Ruinsis cause for exasperation, if not outright anger. Certainly Smith, who has been invisible save for his Academy Award-nominated screenplay for the film version ofA 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


--This text refers to theHardcoveredition.
edit this info

Tags

Books, Suspense Books, horror books, Yucatan Peninsula

Details

ISBN-10:  0307389715
ISBN-13:  978-0307389718
Author:  Scott Smith
Genre:  Fiction, Horror
Publisher:  Vintage
What's your opinion on The Ruins?
rate
7 Ratings: +2.9
You have exceeded the maximum length.
More The Ruins reviews
review by . November 20, 2008
All windup, no followthrough, this very bestseller left me flat despite keeping me reading intently the whole way through. About two-thirds of the way through, you realize there will be no ruins and no rescue, and the book teeters on the brink of "Little Shop of Horrors" parody as it plays out to its predictable end. "Feed me", anyone?
review by . March 19, 2009
The Ruins
    Thrust into a life and death situation, survivors immediately begin planning their means of escape, committed to life; the others surrender to their fear, losing ground in those few vital moments. The characters in The Ruins face more than the usual problems, a threat that is all but incomprehensible, increasingly complex obstacles that require more than the usual human response to danger.     Two vacationing couples in the Yucatan Peninsula, Jeff and …
review by . November 04, 2008
The Ruins by Scott Smith
Two couples, Amy and Jeff, Stacy and Eric, travel to Cancun for a month before going off to college. They meet up with Mathias, a German, who's brother has gone missing. Together, along with a Greek who calls himself Pablo and doesn't speak English or German, they make their way into the heart of the Yucatan, Coba, to look for Henrich.     Warned by locals, by their taxi driver, and by the Mayans near the archeological dig, the six tramp forward into the jungles, determined to …
review by . March 29, 2008
From the very beginning the reader is catapulted into a dark and forlorn tale of doom.  When four friends and some new acquaintances decide to venture out into the lush jungles of Mexico they take a gamble that will cost them the ultimate price. Jeff, Eric, Stacy, Amy, Mathias and Pablo are on a mission to find someone. Mathias informs them that his brother followed the love of his life into a mysterious archeological excavation and that they should go and find them, he ultimately drags …
review by . March 26, 2008
THE RUINS is a horror novel that follows a group of six people as they travel into the jungles of the Yucatan in Mexico, searching for a missing person. Four of the people; Jeff, Amy, Eric, and Stacy, are close college friends from the U.S. spending one last vacation together. Jeff and Amy are a couple and Eric and Stacy are a couple. While enjoying themselves in Mexico they befriend three Greek men and a German. The Greeks speak no English and have taken to calling themselves by Spanish names. …
review by . August 11, 2006
This book is the type that keeps you up very late reading it, because you just can't seem to put it down! The plot races along, and slowly but surely the horror builds until you get to the point where you almost can't stand it. To say almost anything about the plot might be to give away some of the excellent twists and turns from the book, so I won't do that. All I will say is that, if you want a good scare, and don't mind missing some sleep to finish the book, read this!
Related Topics
'Salem's Lot

A 1975 horror novel about vampires by Stephen King.

Misery

A book by Stephen King.

The Dead Zone (Signet)

A book by Stephen King.

First to Review

"Don't vacation in Mexico"
© 2014 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
()
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since
reviews
comments
ratings
questions
compliments
lists