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The Ruins Paperback – February 26, 2008
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"The best horror novel of the new century."
"The Ruins does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches.”
“The most disturbing novel of the year.” —Time
“Smith’s nail-biting tension is a pleasure all its own. . . . This stuff isn’t for the faint of heart.” —New York Post
“A story so scary you may never want to go on vacation, or dig around in your garden, again.” —USA Today
“A smart, clean-burning horror machine.”
—New York Times Book Review
“A classic horror story, told with mounting, detail. Smith spins it out relentlessly, piling chill on chill on chill. . . . What happens, and needless to say it’s not good, is something readers will race page after flapping page to discover. When they do, they will find–well, better set aside eight or nine hours reading time, keep the lights on, and make sure the plants are still in their pots.”
—Bill Bell, The Daily News
“A fast-paced suspense novel that grabs you and refuses to let go. . . Smith’s characterization and timing–the ability to deliver one quick blow after antoher–makes the book so freakishly fun. . . . The story turns grotesque, but Smith’s command of his characters and their demons is masterful. . . . The Ruins is chilling, an icy dissection of human nature in a hot, horrifying place.”
—John Caniglia, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“An exercise in unremitting tension . . . Smith writes in clear, vivid language with elegant sentences.”
—Diane Scharper, The Baltimore Sun
“One of the most terrifying, creepy, riveting novels that will hit the bookstores this summer. . . . Smith sculpts each of the characters, making us care very much about what happens to these young, naive and sometimes selfish individuals. . . . The Ruins has a claustrophobic feel, which adds to the palpatations of suspense. The great outdoors might as well be a dark, dingy basement full of things that go bump in the night as Smith finds new ways to frighten with his setting.”
—Oline H. Cogdill, The Sun-Sentinel
“Reading Scott Smith is like having a rope tied firmly round your middle, as you’re pulled on protesting tiptoes toward a door marked DOOM. . . . Smith is a master of the ‘if only’ scenario, that most foolish and pungent form of regret . . . At its heart, The Ruins is an old-fashioned horror story, and it’s the invasive, intuitive killer that provides the ice-water dread. . . . It’s Thomas Harris meets Poe in a decidedly timely story: Smith has tapped into our anxieties about global warming, lethal weather, supergerms–our collective fear that nature is finally battling back–and given us a decidedly organic nightmare. Grade: A-.
—Gillian Flynn, Entertainment Weekly
“Once again, Smith (A Simple Plan) deftly explores psychological tension and insidious fears. A perfect beach read; just don’t stray too far from the lifeguard.”
“A word of caution to readers, gentle and otherwise: Do not pick up a copy of Scott Smith’s The Ruins if you have anything else you need to do in the next eight hours or so. Don’t start this book if you’re especially weak of stomach or nerves, and above all don’t pick it up if you’re not willing to tolerate some deviation from the usual conventions of thrillers and horror stories. . . . The Ruins is like all great genre fiction in its irresistible storytelling momentum, but in its lack of mercy, it’s more like real life. . . . The Ruins is ruthlessly frank about how most of us really behave in extremis. The escalating nightmare of the group’s fate evolves inexorably from their personalities, in a way reminiscent of Greek tragedy, so Smith couldn’t get away with the flimsy figurines that populate more genre fiction. In The Ruins, all of the characters and their vexed interrrelationships are richly and carefully drawn because, in a way, they are the story. . . . Scott Smith shows us an aspect of ourselves and of human nature we’d rather not acknowledge. He’s such a master, though, that it’s impossible to look away.
—Laura Miller, Salon
About the Author
Scott Smith was educated at Dartmouth College and Columbia University. He lives in New York City.
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0307390276
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307390271
- Product Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Vintage (February 26, 2008)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #35,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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So what about now? After reading it again (a third time), i can completely understand why i liked it in the first place... but at the same time I was disappointed. I feel that i could rate this book a 2 star, or a 5 star and be fine with either rating. SO i am going to settle at 4.
The Ruins follows a group of vacationers on a visit to an archaeological site. The book has a very slow build up before finally going nuclear ~75% through. Reading this book purely as a horror novel, the suspenseful 25%-75%, followed by the insane (!!) 75%-100% make for an enjoyable read. Is the writing great? No. Is the first section of the book boring as f***? Yes.
So. Are you tired of boring, same-old-ending novels? Want something that will shock you? This one is for you.
+ The night dispute/fight and the aftermath was perfect. I just kept thinking of comics that showed a shocked character with an '!' above his head. In this case, that would be me.
+ Characters. The characters might be stereotypical, but the book uses them in interesting ways. It takes the stereotypes, turns them inside out, and then dumps them on the ground.
+ The villain. Lets just take a minute to appreciate the antagonist in this book. If you really think about it, it is 100x as creepy as any alien/monster. The slow creeping/avoid direct conflict is awesome.
- Writing. It sucks. First 25% of the book is a chore to read. Then the book is just 'OK'.
- Plot holes. No explanations of any sort.
- Bloody/barbaric. I was slightly nauseous after finishing the book.
Note: Some characters do die. If characters ending upsets you, then STAY AWAY.
Yes, this is a horror novel for sure!
So, if you have the stomach to endure, read it. I read somewhere that Stephen King thought it was a killer book too. So, you know it's true horror if that dude loved it.
Top reviews from other countries
The characters are mostly believable, though not extensively developed (or particularly likeable), and the author openly subverts the usual horror tropes in regards to them. Interestingly enough, the antagonist only kills two people directly: all the other deaths are caused by panic or desperation. The atmosphere is suitably oppressive and grim, giving a good sense of growing hopelessness in the face of overwhelming odds. The pacing is quite leisurely at first, then gradually picks up steam and becomes relentless by the time you reach the end. The fact that there aren't any chapters contributes to this.
However, there were several things that really bothered me, to the point of yanking me right out of the story, and I had to resort to some vigorous handwaving to get back into it. Spoilers follow:
1. Aspirin is a blood thinner. It slows coagulation and can increase bleeding. Jeff is supposed to be a future medical student, yet there are two occasions where he instructs Eric - who is bleeding profusely on both these occasions - to take aspirin. He also tells him to give aspirin to Pablo, who is most likely suffering from internal haemorrhage at that point. Maybe it's just me, but I find it highly unlikely that a medical student would do such a thing. Especially not someone as well-read and survivalist-minded as Jeff is supposed to be.
2. This has been pointed out by another reviewer, and I'm adding my voice to theirs. The author insists on giving us two German characters and text in German, despite clearly not being a German speaker. This wouldn't be a problem, if he'd actually bothered to check the accuracy of what he was writing. Henrich is not a German name. The correct spelling is "Heinrich". "Katschen" is not a German word and does not mean "kitten". The correct word is "kätzchen". "Two" does not mean "where", the correct word is "wo". This is either some really unfortunate editing (unlikely, as I don't remember any majorly outrageous typos), or just sloppy writing. Especially given that neither of the other non-English speaking characters suffer from this problem, as the author mostly refrains from transcribing their speech. Which I actually thought was a nice touch, as it increased the feeling of an impenetrable language barrier that further served to isolate the characters.
3. I also ended up wondering about the title of the book. The location the characters are stuck in is described as an old mine. There's even a mention of rails going down one of the shafts. I understand that it was changed to a Mayan pyramid in the film adaptation, but it's still a mine in the book. I.e. not ruins in any traditional sense.
In summary, if you're a fan of horror craving an undemanding, exciting and gory offering, and are not a stickler for details, this will hit the spot nicely. If you're squeamish or get bothered by inconsistencies, maybe stay away. Just as the protagonists should've done.
The lack of chapters made it so hard to put down, there was no natural break to stop yourself from reading til three in the morning. I managed it somehow, but it was very hard. It managed to horrify without the use of overly disgusting descriptions, playing with the mind more than the body, although don't get me wrong, there's more than enough gore for some.
If you've got the time, it's quite a hefty book, I'd 100% recommend this one.
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.