Scott's Reviews > The Ruins

The Ruins by Scott B. Smith
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's review
Dec 24, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: adult-books, older-teens, second-half-of-2009, strange, horror
Read in December, 2009

A group of recently graduated college students take a trip to Cancun before they start grad school or "real" jobs. They are a week away from leaving when a German they met while scuba diving asks them to help them find his brother. Jeff, the de facto leader of the group, looking for an adventure, agrees to go. Along with another new acquaintance, a Greek who calls himself Pablo, the four friends, Amy, Jeff, Eric, Stacy, and the German, Mathais, head into the jungle in search of the lost brother. In the jungle they find a beautiful hill covered in flowers, that the Mayans from the area won't let them leave. Over the next few days, they face a plethora of real and psycological terror as they try to escape the hill with their lives.
The Ruins, like Scott Smith's other novel, A Simple Plan, is a character study that puts normal people in an extreme situation and watches them react. It's taut and deliberate, and like many horror novels, bottom heavy, winding it's way to a bloody climax. The flowers and vines on the hill are the partial monster of the novel, as they are omnivores out for human flesh. But the book works better, and is more terrifying in the psychological horror realms. The plants, and the friends, work against each other as the days and the heat weaken them. The mind games, especially as played by the plants, are especially sickening; watching the friends fall apart is fascinating, startling, and disheartening. There's also quite a bit of gore, for fans of that, and its stomach-turning nature prove its effectiveness. Even at a hefty 500+ pages, Smith's adeptness at suspense make this a quick read. Great for, say, a snowstorm.

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