Book review: "The Ruins" by Scott Smith
I have just read one of the creepiest, scariest books since Stephen King's "The Cell," "The Ruins" by Scott Smith.
Let's start off by talking about who the author is. Scott Smith is the author of the 1993 book "A Simple Plan." And he also wrote the screenplay, which got him an Oscar Nomination. Remember that book or movie? The downfall of some folks that found lots of money? Well, after 13 years Mr. Smith has written another book that traces a different sort of downfall. This book is written balls to the wall. There aren't even any chapter breaks. Once the action starts, it is a struggle to put the book down or even to find a place to put the book down.
4 Americans (Jeff, Amy, Eric and Stacey) are on vacation in Mexico. Where they meet up with a German who speaks English (Matthias) and 3 Greeks who speak neither English nor German, but have prided themselves on adopting "Mexican" names, Pablo, Juan and Don Quixote. Matthias' brother Heinrich has taken off with a girl who is an archaelogist working on the site of some ruins. After some time Matthias worries about Heinrich and goes out to find his brother armed only with a note and a map sketched on a napkin. The Americans and One Greek, Pablo, decide to go along, after all what is Mexico without some Mayan Ruins?
The horror begins when they discover a Mayan Village and realize they must have missed the path as sketched on the map. The villagers try to ignore the party of 6 tourists but when the tourists venture onto a path that the villagers have been trying to conceal, the Mayans must become aggressive. First they try to warn the party from going onto a hill that has been overgrown with a vine with beautiful stained glass red flowers. But as soon as one steps into the vine the Mayans draw their bows and force the party to the top of the hill. All around the hill the tourists notice small mounds when they approach one of the mounds they discover the skeletal remains of Heinrich. The Mayans keep guard and do not allow the tourists off the hill under threat of death. But the tourists soon discover that death by arrow would be better than what the ruins and the vine have in store for them. The red color of the flowers is soon replaced by the constant flow of red blood.
Scott Smith, writes the book in what seems like one breath...at least I don't remember exhaling. The approach he uses is the never-turn-away-method. Once the action and gore start the author forces the reader to look closer. Such as when Pablo falls down a mine shaft and breaks his spine. We go through the process of having to lift his useless legs onto a makeshift backboard and then having to amputate his legs after they have been stripped to the bone. Or when Eric gets a glass cut after trying to help Pablo out of the mine shaft and then to discover the vine growing inside him the next morning the vines use the cut as entrance, then using a knife to carve up his own body to rid it of the vine...out of paranoia? You decide.
If you like horror, suspense, thrillers this is your book. If you are looking for a Zagat's guide to Mexico....Stay away from this book.