Since I'm hanging back and delaying the drive for our move from North Florida to Virginia Beach because of that lil hussy Irene, I was trolling around and looking at prior books I read before I started blogging. As a fan of all books and movies that are creepy, this one jumped out in my memory and produced an immediate shudder of recognition. Now, I realize that most may remember the awful movie that came out, which carried along the same lines of other horror movies at the time such as "Hostel" and "Turista," (which in my humble opinion were pretty horrible), the film version of The Ruins did have a rare moment or two that were somewhat entertaining and checked the list on ultimate horror. For the most part, though, the movie is one to skip.
The book, however, is quite different. Although leading off with the standard recipe of vacationing tourists and an unknown terror, The Ruins by Scott Smith establishes a unique approach to the "regular" horror story and focuses more on the psychological aspect of fear. It is a book that pushes the reader to fully experience the characters' cycle of emotions encompassing tension, nervousness, questions, doubt, ultimate panic and fright, and not to mention loss of trust, which carries its own special blend of emotional turmoil.
Four Americans traveling through Cancun, a vacation hot spot, meet a German tourist searching for his brother, who apparently took off with a female archaeologist to visit a Mayan ruin and hasn't been seen since. Deciding to travel with him, the team of five track down the Mayan ruin and are immediately accosted by the local Mexican villagers. Feeling threatened and not understanding the quickly spoken Spanish accompanied by shouts and guns, the five tourists find themselves inadvertently stepping into the area around the Mayan ruin. When they attempt to step forward, the locals are now pushing them back into it. Trapped, they can now only redirect back into the wooded area to escape. They soon discover that what they thought was the threat outside of the ruin was quite the opposite. The terror has just now begun.
Creepy and downright frightening, The Ruins is one that will freak you out. Several events throughout the book are jarring solely for the fact that it is completely understandable how one could emotionally break down in that environment while facing the unknown. One scene in particular still makes me blanch with discomfort while my stomach turns over when I think about it.
In my opinion, Scott Smith didn't write a horror story. He instead crafted a psychological thriller which incorporated elements of horror to provide a frighteningly unsettling story that compels the reader to continue reading each and every page with a tight grip. Highly recommended for those who want a really good scare to read, or for those who enjoy a good psychological thriller, and I'm pretty sure horror fans will approve as well.
Did you read it? What did you think?
This is also one to put on the list if you are participating in Stainless Steel Dropping's annual RIP Challenge, which this year's challenge should be announced soon. I'm definitely joining in.
About the Author
American author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan (and screenwriter for the film adaptation starring Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton), Scott Smith has won numerous awards, along with an Academy Award nomination. Stephen King called The Ruins, "The best horror novel of the new century."
Click here to visit the author on The Ruins official site.
Click here to view or buy the book on Barnes and Noble.
Click here to view or buy the book on Amazon.com.
Click here to view or buy the book on Book Depository.