Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Ruins: A Novel by Scott Smith

Get out your survival handbooks for a trip into the South American jungles!!! Scott Smith’s The Ruins is a taut creepy horrific foray displaying human survival skills and reactions of the desperate at its best…and worst. Four friends, Jeff, Amy, Eric and Stacey, on a break from the college life head down to the beautiful Cancún beaches for fun in the sun. A popular tourist spot, they end up meeting new friends from Greece and Germany. Matthias, the German, is worried about his brother. Henrich left with a girl to an archaeological dig in the jungles of South America and has not returned. Jeff, excited about a different type of day trip convinces everyone to go. The four friends, Matthias, and one of their new Greek acquaintances, Pablo, take a bus then a taxi to the ruins. The taxi driver warns them against visiting the ruins, the Mayan village members try and prevent them from going into the area. But the second the small party steps onto the hill heading up to the dig, the Mayan’s prevent them from leaving the area, trapping them with the threat of spears and guns. Now, faced with the prospect of surviving with dwindling supplies, the group must deal with their situation. Without giving too much away, let’s just use that clichéd old phrase and say things start to go terribly wrong.

Scott Smith’s first book, A Simple Plan (1993), was a blockbuster thriller which eventually turned into an Oscar nominated screenplay. The Ruins is heavier on the horror especially as the book nears its end. I found it interesting to view the various ways each individual coped with having to survive and how their worst traits came out. Interacting with each other seemed to get harder and harder for this group. Instead of trying to work together, the group started fragmenting. It also pointed out to me how woefully inadequate I would be trying to survive for even one day, especially first aid skills (not that I’m planning on getting lost in wild areas!). Anyway, The Ruins is a good solid summer horror read, perfect for when you are lying in the beach in Cancún!

No comments: