While partying on holiday in Cancun two young American couples befriend a German tourist named Mathias, and three friendly Greeks. Mathias had been travelling with his brother, Heinrich, who's disappeared off to the Mayan ruins with a woman working on an archaeological dig. Mathias is worried for his brother and, using a hand-drawn map Heinrich had left behind, sets off in pursuit. The Americans and one of the Greeks join him in his adventure to the interior. After an exhausting journey, the six reach a Mayan village. But ...
While partying on holiday in Cancun two young American couples befriend a German tourist named Mathias, and three friendly Greeks. Mathias had been travelling with his brother, Heinrich, who's disappeared off to the Mayan ruins with a woman working on an archaeological dig. Mathias is worried for his brother and, using a hand-drawn map Heinrich had left behind, sets off in pursuit. The Americans and one of the Greeks join him in his adventure to the interior. After an exhausting journey, the six reach a Mayan village. But there they receive a frightening reception and turn around, despairing of ever finding Henrich and the ruins. Following a camouflaged trail out of the village, the group come to a hillside covered in bright red flowers. As they pause at the base of this hill, transfixed by the beauty of the vision, a horseman approaches behind them. It's one of the Mayans; he's got a gun and, in his own language, orders them away from the hill. In the midst of the confrontation, one of the group steps backward, into the flowering vine. The Mayan falls silent then orders all six up the hill. As they follow the trail across the hilltop and down the slope they see yet another group of Mayans waiting for them, weapons out-and a mound, covered with the flowering vine. They examine it and find Henrich's corpse, shot full of arrows. They are mystified. And the Mayans won't let them leave. Trapped, the group try to figure out a way to survive until someone comes to find them, imagining they've been made irrational by thirst and hunger. But as they move through their first twenty-four hours, another, far more terrifying foe reveals itself ...Eerie, terrifying, unputdownable "The Ruins" is suspense storytelling at its best.
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Very disappointing after his first book, A Simple Plan. (I gave 5 stars to that book). The characters are shallow and the decisions they make are SO dumb that I didn't care what happened to them. I kept reading ( and reading) to see what happened but it really wasn't worth it. Save yourself the time - they all die in the end.
Jul 28, 2008
Well I bought this book after I saw the movie, because I wanted more insight into the minds and emotions of the characters. I think that it's pretty good, but I didn't get it for the same reasons other peopel did. I got it to basically enrich my movie experience. !!!!!!!
Jul 2, 2008
Not Bad, Not Great
The Ruins is not the best book I have read and certainly not the best by this author, but it was a reasonably entertaining story nonetheless.
Virtually the entire story takes place on the top of a large hill in the South American rainforest where a group of unlucky tourists are held hostage by the local natives with very little food, water or shelter to sustain them. Worse for them, the site is home to a carnivorous jungle vine which is both intelligent and deadly and slowly begins to pick them off one by one.
The plot might sound a little silly (monster plant hunts and kills tourists) but the author tells the story in a plausible enough fashion to suck you in to believing it could be true enough to keep you reading.
However, a few hundred pages in I started feeling like there wasn't really enough of a plot here to maintain my interest and it was a struggle to reach the somewhat predictable conclusion. The pacing for me was all wrong, very slow when a few hundred pages slashed out would have made it a faster more entertaining read.
This book is also pretty gory in places which was fine by me but is obviously not everyone's idea of fun and therefore best avoided if the latter describes you.
Jan 6, 2008
What a disappointment...*spoiler*
I just finished reading The Ruins (Scott Smith), and I am quite disappointed. I kind of expected that it wouldn't be stellar, which is why I waited for the paperback. Honestly, the story itself was engaging. Imagine taking a vacation in a foreign country with friends, then getting trapped in the jungle on a hill covered with a vine that seems to have extraordinary abilities. It seems to be actively seeking out ways to kill you and your friends. You can't leave the hill because a group of Mayans has set up a 24 hour watch around the base of the hill, brandishing weapons. You find the remains of several other people all over the hill. One of your friends is gravely wounded. You have very little food and water. You have no way of getting help.
Sounds like a good story, right? Do you want to know how it ends? Of course you do, so you keep reading. It all seems to be going somewhere, leading up to something....
And then everybody dies.
This is no story of the incredible resilience of the human spirit. Dean Koontz would cry after reading this book.
However dull the ending, I did enjoy the story. The characters were well drawn, and Smith shows a remarkable gift for displaying human emotion and reactions to stressful situations.
So, not a total waste of time, but no fireworks either.
Oct 4, 2007
Venus Flytrap on Steroids
After enjoying Scott Smith's first novel, A Simple Plan, his follow up, The Ruins is a disappointment.
The plot was simplistic and the book became all too boring in its predictability. Characterization was so cliché. Straight from central casting for an international youth hostel.
The monstrous man-eating plant did not engender any element of horror as with Peter Benchley's shark. Actually, it reminded me of "Audrey Junior," the steroidal venus flytrap in Roger Corman's cult classic, Little Shop of Horrors. But at least you got a good laugh from that horticultural carnivore.
I would have enjoyed the author injecting more Mayan archeology and mythology into the story. It would have made for a more interesting book, especially if Scott Smith could have given us a more developed and convincingly frightening monster.
I was tempted several times to abandon the read. In retrospect, I should have.
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