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The Ruins Hardcover – 1 Aug 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; First Edition edition (1 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593054326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593054321
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,462,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Of course, having an excellent film adapted from a book doesn't hurt its sales. But Scott Smith's A Simple Plan was, in its own right, a remarkably assured crime novel with strongly drawn characters and plotting that many another author would kill for. The art of generating suspense with the written word is not easily acquired, but Smith is a master. And now we have The Ruins, to prove that Smith is no one-trick pony. A decade may have passed since his debut novel, but Smith has not lost an iota of his storytelling panache.

Two young American couples are enjoying a vacation in Cancun, and make friends with Mathias, a German tourist. He and his brother Heinrich had been travelling together, and the latter has disappeared while investigating Mayan ruins with a woman friend. Mathias, concerned over the disappearance of his brother, persuades his tourist friends to help him track down his brother with the aid of a hand-drawn map the latter had left behind. After a punishing journey, the group come to a Mayan village where they encounter a distinctly unfriendly welcome. Leaving the village, they stumble across a hillside festooned with beautiful red flowers. But a Mayan is following them with a gun, and soon a body is encountered, shot full of arrows. As the above might indicate, this is by no means standard thriller territory, and Smith continues to defeat any expectations that readers might bring to his books. After a deceptive start, this turns into a much darker book than A Simple Plan, and actually defies comparisons to the earlier work, so distinctive is this new one. Readers are used to being taken on terrifying journeys, but this one is a humdinger.
--Barry Forshaw

Review

"Smith intends to scare the bejabbers out of you, and succeeds .... Does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches in 1975." (Stephen King)

"The suspense novel of the year. This is compulsive reading. Scott Smith sets out to frighten and he succeeds brilliantly with this harrowing psychological chiller." (Sunday Telegraph)

"It's been more than a decade since Smith's impressive debut, A Simple Plan. The wait has been worth it, with this tense, dense oppressive thriller taking the reader into new dimensions of fear ... Every time you think the book has hit a high in terror, it somehow gets more unbearable." (Guardian)

"A tour de force of terror, a novel that seduces, shocks and dares you to keep reading. There's a timeless fable at work here, one that prompts thoughts of Heart of Darkness" (Washington Post)

"Bloodcurdlingly horrific ... It's the contract between the familiar and the unspeakable that makes this book so harrowing." (New York Times) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Croatoan on 27 Feb. 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I think some of the poor reviews here have been spawned by fans of "A Simple Plan" (or thrillers like A Simple Plan) gnashing their teeth because "The Ruins" turned out to be not what they expected. I mean, how dare Smith have the gall to not only write a different kind of novel to ASP, but to completely swap genres as well.
This is not a thriller in the Silence of the Lambs mold (the blurb on the cover is misleading to the point of being false advertising as King's quote refers to ASP and not The Ruins); it is not a suspense tale either, instead it is an out and out supernatural horror novel which will appeal to fans of King, Herbert and Koontz. Is it far-fetched? Of course it is, but then so are haunted hotels and towns populated by vampires. I'll not go into the plot as others have done so already, but I will say I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to Smith's next novel, whatever genre he chooses to give us.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J.Flood on 7 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
A group of friends on holiday in Cancun, decide to travel to the site of an archaelogical dig in the Mexican jungle. A brother of one of the groups members, has left on a note giving directions, to the site and has left a few days earlier. When they arrive at the site, which is on a hill completed covered in flowering vines, their troubles really begin.

I'm not too sure as to why this book is getting so many negative reviews. I found it a real page turner. There was always something happening to make me want to read on further, as the groups plight becomes more and more deperate, as essentials, such as food and water start to become more scarce. I felt the characterisation could have been a bit better, but I have read books with far more 'wooden' charcaters than this one. Worth a read, if you like the suspense/horror type of novel.
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Format: Paperback
This is a book that would help you fill in a few lazy hours when you haven't got anything else to do and all the bookshops are shut. The basic premise involves a bunch of kids traipsing into the Yucatan jungle, having some creepy stand-off with some local Mayans and then being forced to trudge up a relatively harmless looking hill covered in what seems to be a multitude of vines with bright red flowers. As they realise that the Mayans, who are now setting up an armed camp around the hill, are not going to let them leave, they start to explore their new territory and make some grisly discoveries about its previous occupants (all of whom have been relieved of their flesh). Up until this point the book is ok although about 100 pages of useless dialogue between said annoying hill-inhabiting protagonists could have been pruned. It's after this point that the book takes an unfortunate tumble down the tendrils of cliche. Once the fate of the previous occupants has been revealed, you know that this is a 'pick them off one by one' type horror. THere's the inevitable mortal injury that occurs within the first 5 seconds, there's the usual people trying to get into dark, foreboding tunnels and instead of getting spooked, realising something's wrong and getting out of there, they get spooked, realise something's really wrong and keeping walking towards it. Let's not forget the obligatory amputation without anaesthetic. There's the typical bickering and the character denouement is simply there to help the reader identify which order the characters are going to die in and how. The whole book is about 300 pages too long where moments of real horror are broken up by pages of inane dialogue or paragraphs about people defecating.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I do think the negative reviews of this novel are incredibly unfair. I read a wide range of genres, with horrors and thrillers being among my favourites. I will say at the outset that I haven't read a Simple Plan, and it may well be that many people who didn't rate The Ruins had read this first and expected a similar story. It's certainly not a book in the same genre as Silence of the Lambs and, to this extent, the cover blurb is misleading and, again, could set readers up for disappointment. So, let's just take this novel as a stand alone work which straddles the horror genre more than any other ... to this extent, it really does deliver. At first I thought the writing was somewhat simplistic (I'd say for the first couple of chapters). However, once the story proper started, it's clear that Scott Smith is an incredibly adept writer, building pace, tension and character almost pitch-perfectly. It is some feat to write a novel and set it in one location with six main characters (one of whom is unconscious for most of the novel) and still retain a reader's interest - in fact it did more than retain my interest, it had me turning the pages eager to find out what would happen next. It is claustrophobic, brooding, menacing and intriguing. Yeah it's `far fetched' if you want to argue that no vines like this actually exist - but did I believe it could be true? Yes. After all, tales of werewolves and vampires also require us to suspend our disbelief, as do Michael Crichton's offerings which are similarly `believably far fetched'. And as a horror, this is also great fun - it's what you want out of a novel; something that keeps you flicking the pages and thinking, `I'm really enjoying this'.Read more ›
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