The Ruins by Scott Smith

Genre: Horror/Suspense
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 369
Clear Off Your Shelves
Source: purchased new

This one initially landed on my TBR list thanks to Bellezza’s review a couple of years ago. Then MyFriendAmy’s review a few months ago made me target this one for sometime around Halloween when creepy scary stuff seems appropriate. Years ago I read a lot of horror books, but haven’t picked up much from that genre in recent years. I did enjoy this little side trip into the genre because it’s just that time of year, but I don’t think I’ll be going on a binge of reading horror books any time soon.

The story involves 2 young couples on a vacation to Cancun. While there they befriend several other vacationers including a group of guys from Greece despite the language barriers and a guy from Germany. When the brother of the German man fails to return from a side trip into the interior jungle, he convinces the 2 couples and one of the Greeks to accompany him in following his brothers planned journey. What is expected to be a day trip soon turns into a fight for their very survival. The brother’s trail leads them to an hill with an ancient mine shaft and a terrifying presence that lies in wait for unsuspecting victims to happen along.

I thought that the author did an excellent job of telling the story and building the suspense. At the beginning the suspense is about what will go wrong, and later it’s about which, if any of these people will even survive. Be forewarned that there are some gruesome and gory things that happen and Smith makes them all too vivid. Despite the gruesome parts, it’s a well done scary tale. He shifts the focus primarily among the four Americans as the story progresses. Their personalities lead to very different approaches to the building tension and terror.

I know a movie was made of this story a few years ago, but I have no desire to see it. I just don’t need that level of scary and gruesome in pictures, thank you. I’ve also read enough of about the movie to know that the story is changed quite a bit. The book was good but not great. I didn’t feel like any of the primary characters was particularly likeable except maybe the German. It was definitely hard to put down once I got started though, and certainly not something I’d recommend someone read shortly before a vacation to Mexico or anywhere in the jungle.

Rating 3/5