Tie-in to the film. A group of friends on holiday in Mexico go in search of a missing friend and come to the terrifying realisation there is an insidious "other" among them.
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Of course, having an excellent film adapted from a book doesn't hurt its sales. But Scott Smith's A Simple Plan was, in its own right, a remarkably assured crime novel with strongly drawn characters and plotting that many another author would kill for. The art of generating suspense with the written word is not easily acquired, but Smith is a master. And now we have The Ruins, to prove that Smith is no one-trick pony. A decade may have passed since his debut novel, but Smith has not lost an iota of his storytelling panache.
Two young American couples are enjoying a vacation in Cancun, and make friends with Mathias, a German tourist. He and his brother Heinrich had been travelling together, and the latter has disappeared while investigating Mayan ruins with a woman friend. Mathias, concerned over the disappearance of his brother, persuades his tourist friends to help him track down his brother with the aid of a hand-drawn map the latter had left behind. After a punishing journey, the group come to a Mayan village where they encounter a distinctly unfriendly welcome. Leaving the village, they stumble across a hillside festooned with beautiful red flowers. But a Mayan is following them with a gun, and soon a body is encountered, shot full of arrows. As the above might indicate, this is by no means standard thriller territory, and Smith continues to defeat any expectations that readers might bring to his books. After a deceptive start, this turns into a much darker book than A Simple Plan, and actually defies comparisons to the earlier work, so distinctive is this new one. Readers are used to being taken on terrifying journeys, but this one is a humdinger.
"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
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