Author: Scott Smith
Published: July 18, 2006
Run Time: 6 hours (5 CDs)
Rating: 5 / 10
Awards: none, although it was #87 on EW's list of New Classics
Synopsis: From the back cover:
Eerie, terrifying, and unputdownable, The Ruins is Scott Smith's first novel since his acclaimed debut A Simple Plan earned rave reviews and stormed bestseller lists.My Review: Hoo, boy, Where do I start? Well, first of all, I'm not much for horror stories. I read almost everything Steven King and Dean Koontz wrote back in middle/high school, and I haven't really had a taste for it since then. But I had read some reviews of The Ruins and it sounded pretty good, and I had been wanting to read it. I went to the library last week looking for an audiobook version of To Kill a Mockingbird (for my class), saw this sitting on the shelf, and decided to give it a listen. It's read by Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl/Raoul - swoon!), which was great. I didn't realize it at the time, but it's also abridged, which is also probably a good thing.
The Ruins follows two American couples enjoying a pleasant, lazy beach holiday together in Mexico. On an impulse, they go off with newfound friends in search of on of their group - the young German, who, in pursuit of a girl, has headed for the remote Mayan ruins, site of a fabled archeological dig.
This is what happens from the moment the searchers - moving into the wild interior - begin to suspect that there is an insidious, horrific "other" among them...
Basic premise: four Americans - Eric and Stacey, Jeff and Amy - are in Mexico, getting drunk and enjoying the beaches. They meet some Greeks - Pablo, Juan, and Don Quixote (not their real names) - and a German, Mattias. Mattias is worried about his brother, who has gone off to an archeological dig with some chick he just met. He wants to go after him, because they're supposed to fly home in a few days. Amazingly, Jeff volunteers to go with him, and he manages to convince his friends to come along. They end up finding a huge hill, covered with dark green vines and pretty red flowers. The local Mayans, who had been trying to warn them away from said hill, now begin holding them hostage and refusing to let them leave. And then things start to get bloody.
Honestly, I wasn't a big fan of this book. It's not my favorite genre, for one thing, and for another, I just didn't really like the characters that much. The girls were shrill, only two of the guys were non-moronic, and it took me a while to be able to distinguish them. I'm not a big fan of horror/slasher books or movies; listening to it was infinitely better than reading it, but still had me squirming uncomfortably a few times. The "other" - the enemy, the person/thing that starts killing them - is completely ridiculous and required a leap of logic I wasn't prepared to make.
And here's where I'm going to spoil it for everyone, so if you want to read this book some day and don't want to know what happens, skip this next paragraph.
Ready? Okay... It turns out that the vines are carnivorous. AND they can talk and mimic human speech. How? I don't know. It's never explained. The characters are not exactly scientists; they agreed to go off into the wilderness of a foreign country with a complete stranger, after all. The vines are also capable of setting traps and thinking. They can sense human emotions and manipulate our protagonists by trying to divide them.
So, yeah. Completely unbelievable. It wasn't a terrible read/listen, just not my cup of tea. Plenty of other people have enjoyed it, though. It was even made into a movie:
In conclusion: meh. If you like horror stories, you'll probably enjoy it. I can't imagine what the unabridged version is like, though.
If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.