Brian's Reviews > The Ruins

The Ruins by Scott B. Smith
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Mar 15, 09

Read in January, 2009

Consider this a 2.5-star rating.

I'm not exactly sure what to even say about The Ruins, but I'll give it a try.

For me, the reason this book didn't fall to a 2- or even 1-star rating is because the book was ultimately readable, and at a fairly quick pace. Unlike some reviewers, I also found the overall story creepy and disturbing.

Unfortunately, the story had several flaws that could not be overlooked. After the characters arrived at the site of the "ruins," almost all forward motion of the plot ground to a complete halt. I understand that the author did this to try to build a sense of creeping doom, and he could have accomplished this had he moved the story along at a pace beyond glacial. There was too much repetition, too much brooding on the part of the characters, and too much gratuitous blood and gore to keep the story compelling.

The second main flaw was found in the characters themselves. I wouldn't call them two-dimensional or cardboard; in fact, because the author spent hundreds of pages developing them, you actually got to know a lot about them. The problem was that not a single one of them was likable. I didn't find myself caring much for any of the characters, and in several cases, I felt outright disdain for them. When you start feeling like yelling, "Will you just shut up?!" at all the characters in a novel, it's not a good sign.

This book had a lot of potential, and it could have been something intense and enthralling. Instead, it fell flat, and by the end of it, the reader could legitimately ask, "What in the world was the point of all that?"

Oh, and to The Philadelphia Inquirer: Your book reviewer thought The Ruins was the best American horror novel since The Shining? Seriously? The best American horror novel since 1977? That has got to be one of the most preposterously inflated book reviews in the history of yours or any paper!
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