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VINE VOICEon 6 September 2009
I have read both of Scott's novels and while they differ in genre and style, I think it's fair to say that they are equally enthralling. I read "A Simple Plan" a few years ago and didn't actually connect that the Ruins was written by the same person until I saw the back page of the novel which advertised it. I was a bit disappointed as I was planning to see what else Scott had written and then discovered I had already read it!

The Ruins is not just a simple horror story- to call it that is an injustice. It is also a psychological thriller. A bit of a Blair Witch project meets a Harlen Coben book. On the surface, it sounds like your average horror- spoilt college kids take a trip to Mexico and get more then they bargain for when they visit some old ruins.However, the characterisation was very good and the mounting suspence made this very hard to put down. I have also seen the film, which is not as good as the book, but is not the turkey other reviewers might have you believe.

I am disappointed that this book has not fared better with reviewers, but I thought it was very good. I hope Scott doesn't leave it another ten years until his next book!

PS- Amy in the sleeping bag is exceptionally scary and I had a bit of a nightmare after reading that bit!
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VINE VOICEon 28 July 2011
The story begins and we are introduced to four friends, Amy, Stacy, Eric and Jeff, who are vacationing in Mexico. They've made friends with a German guy called Mathias and a group of Greeks, spending their days by the pool and their nights on the beach drinking they're all having a pretty good time. One morning though, Mathias tells the group that he needs to leave to go and find his brother who apparantly has left to joing a group of archealogists in the jungle. Fancying an adventure Amy, Stacy, Jeff and Eric, and at the last minute on of the Greeks, decide to tag along, jumping at the chance to see a bit of the 'real' Mexico. So after a day of travelling through the wilderness the group stumble upon the supposed site where Mathias' brother should be. Only there's no one in sight except a group of angry Mayan's who dont want them to leave the site and a giant vine which is ready to feast on the travellers.

Far fetched? yes. Gruesome? Definitely. Enjoyable? Undeniably so. Yes this is a change of genre since Smith's previous book 'A Simple Plan' but that isn't a bad thing. This is survival horror at it's best. There's some bad reviews on here but if you're interested give it a go, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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VINE VOICEon 24 September 2007
Given the ammount of bindweed we've got in our garden this book had a certain resonance.Essentially,it's a horror book.The kind of thing that nowadays is more usually done in film.The sort of thing I would not normally read nor watch.But I bought this,even though I was wary of the subject matter,because I really enjoyed A Simple Plan and I think Scott Smith is a good writer.And I'm glad I did,because this book proves it.Even though the whole thing is pretty ridiculous he sustains the nail biting tension right down to just about the last page.It's not as clever as A Simple Plan,but it's just as unputdownable.

If you can accept the central premise,what Hitchcock used to call The McGuffin,then I'd recommend this.To help us along Smith gives us a good introduction to his characters and I found I was hooked way before it got to the point where I had to suspend my disbelief.If you've ever read or watched and enjoyed The Day Of The Triffids then you shouldn't have much trouble here,if you hated it then most likely you'll hate this too.

Both my wife and I found this a great little page turner.The kind of book to turn to when you can't concentrate on anything more demanding.
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on 3 November 2006
Undeniably the most disappointing second novel in many years. After the sparse debut book, A Simple Plan, the author has obviously lost the plot in more ways than one. Abandoning the human simplicity of his first novel, he goes racing into a trashy genre I can only call Jungle Gothic, a preposterous (and derivative) tale of hapless travellers in the Yucatan, who get trapped among flesh-eating vines. Not only do they eat, they also - I kid you not - perform ventriloqy! It's a gorefest, and a bad one, not just because of the carnivorous vinery, the characters are so AWFUL it's a joy each time one of them gets gobbled. They are so tedious, so dull, so ordinary, and so uncaring - how can we be expected to like them if the author so clearly doesn't? Worse still is the predictable ending, the kind that leaves open the dire possibility of The Ruins Part Two - a finale that's so hackneyed the author and its editor, if there was one, should be made to stroll through the vines themselves. Deplorable, interminable, badly written, a shocker of a book (in the derogatory sense of that word).

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on 4 September 2012
I bought this book after reading the cover and seeing that it was highly recommended by Stephen King.... later I found out it was the author's earlier book that was being described. This book holds a special joint place with 'The girl who loved Tom Gordan'. Both are the worst books that I have actually finished.

Ok, so the plot.... 2 American couples on vacation in Mexico team up with a German who wants to find his missing brother. A greek who speaks no English also joins them...... They travel to an archeological dig but miss the turning and end up in a Mayan village. Receiving no hospitality they then leave and find the right path. The Myans arrive and due to the language barrier are not able to prevent the group from entering onto a hill.... The Mayans will not let them cross back over the clearing and force them to remain at arrowpoint.

On the hill there appears to be vines which turn out to people killers....

Expect plants that have acid for sap, can imitate voices and sounds and move around.

I struggled to get through this book... it was very poorly written and just did not grip my attention in any sort of way. All the characters were two dimensional and alike, and really just plain annoying.

The authors first book seems to have gotten many good reviews, but this offering has stopped me reading anymore of his works. Pity he didn't take the idea and give it to Stephen King........
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on 14 July 2012
I read this book after watching the movie, which I also enjoyed and discovered that it was based on this novel, I enjoyed the book so much that I just bought and have mostly finished listening to, the audio version also.
This is slow to develop as some reviewers have pointed out but that is part of the story, it's not about action, in fact the story is mostly about inaction, it is about creeping inevitability in all it's terror.
I shall explain that I am a huge zombie fan and an all round horror fan, the more action the better. Thrillers are not usually my first choice but this novel is a supernatural/horror/sci-fi type of thriller so that works for me. There are no assassins, government agencies or psychotic murderers in this novel, there is something far worse.
It is a reasonably lengthy book and that may put some people off, I would suggest that if you hated the movie you most likely won't like the book, if you liked the movie though, you will LOVE the book.
As some other reviewers have mentioned, this is a new turn for Scott Smith and that is to be applauded, if fans don't appreciate this one they may love the next. Let's just hope that Scott carries on writing regardless of the genre.
There are many lengthy descriptions which some reviews have complained should have been edited out, I suggest that these were left in place because they are a part of the atmosphere of the story, they help build the tension which is the main core of this book. It is not boring as many have claimed although if you enjoy reading high action novels then you may well find this boring, I would suggest though that it is all a matter of expectation.
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on 23 May 2008
this is a horror novel more then a thriller which I thought I had picked up, far fetched and unbelievable, but a great piece of fiction. I loved it, and couldn't wait to find out what happened at the end, go on give this book a go, betcha love it
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on 10 March 2013
When I try to explain the plot line of this book to a friend, it sounds awful! But, somehow, it is an absolutely fantastic book that is very well written. I loved it from start to finish!
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VINE VOICEon 19 December 2007
It,s difficult to write about how prepostrous "The Ruins" is without giving the game away too much. Basically A group of western travellers head off into the Mexican jungle to search for one of the groups brother who had joined an archeological dig at some Mayan ruins. In a scene of almost laughable banality they stumble , almost literally upon a well hidden path and are immediatly surrounded by gun and bow & arrow toting Mayans who usher them to a derelict camp-site from which they are not allowed to leave.
Here they learn of the hideous fate that befell the archeologists and that they are fated to endure the same. Now this premise sounds reasonably feasible but when the reader discovers the exact nature of the threat facing the protaganists...well i feel chortles are more likely to be the order of the day than chills. You see a rapacious indigenous species thrives in this area, one that shows uncanny intelligence, cunning and an insatiable appetite for human flesh.It,s a vine ...yes a vine with pretty red flowers and some of the things it gets up to ....well to say they beggar belief is a gross insult to beggars everywhere.
This uneasy mixture of thriller/horror/adventure could be just about palatable if it was,nt so indulgently over-written. Scott Smith -like Stephen King (Whose claims as to the books worth on the cover are laughable)- will never settle for a sentence when several paragraphs will do the job. There are two pages of torturous verbiage given over to one character eating a grape. Trimmed down by a more savy and demanding editor The Ruins could at least have been pacy entertaining nonsense but as it is the pace ...well there is,nt any really .The characters are,nt the most sympathetic bunch either. Young people being young people this crew are vapid self absorbed whining narccisists anyway .Any of us would act unreasonably some of the time under severe stress but this lot add utter stupidity to the equation with startling regularity.
It will be fascinating to see what the proposed film version will do with this material. The book aims for incremental horror but i feel the film would be better served as a warped black comedy because thats about all the subjects matters worth. As for Kings cover claim that The Ruins is the "Best suspense thriller since "Silence Of The Lambs"......no could take that seriously be they animal , mineral or indeed vegetable.
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on 11 November 2007
I seldom submit what I think about a book, but in this case I decided to make an exception. I've been looking forward for Smith's second book for years, and I was thrilled at the idea of reading The Ruins. I've just finished it and I don't really know what to make of it. He can definetely be a very good writer and I think that he's done a great job describing human relationships and characters. But the main plot is definetely way too thin. This superintelligent vine is a bit too much even for a Stephen King compulsive reader. What lacks compared to other good horror stories is the "ordinary" component, the plausibility of what we are reading. I could have accepted the eating vine, but the talking one?
In the end, I don't know if I'm going to read an hypotetical third novel. Might be even more disappointing.
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