Friday, April 1, 2016

Book review: "The Ruins" by Scott Smith

Let's start this post by saying that you should DEFINITELY go to Mexico. But, maybe, if the locals seem really really intent on waving you off of a location, you might want to listen.

-Also, if you're thinking "I feel like that's a movie...." you are correct. It is a movie that (SHOCK) deviates from the book a fair bit, even though the script was partially written by the books author. Here's the imdb page for it.-

Two couples (Eric + Stacy, Amy + Jeff) are on vacation in Mexico. The girls are best friends, and it seems that the guys are just kind of along for the ride. (One of these couple has a cheater in the mix, I won't divulge who.) They meet a German guy named Heinrich and hang out together along with a group of 3 Greeks who speak no Spanish or English, so it's mostly just drinking. Matthias reveals that his brother has run of with a cute archeologist (as one does) and he has to go get him because they are due to go back to Germany soon. The two couples, Matthias, and Pablo (one of the Greeks) all decide to go look for him, and to do a little site seeing in the process.

They follow the kind of half-ass map that Matthias' brother left him and wander into a Mayan village where they are stared at with intense curiosity. It is unsettling for our motley crew so they start to wander and eventually find the path up a hill to a clearing. There's no sign of recent activity, or Matthias' brother. The strangest thing is that the Mayans from the village, now armed, have encircled the hill. It becomes clear that the Mayans are not going to let them leave. But they hear a cell phone ringing from a well in the hill so they decide to go get it and call for help. But, after a scary accident it is revealed that there is no phone....but that the vines are mocking them with the sound of a cell phone ringing and then the disconcerting sound of laughter.

 What follows is a frightening tale of evil vines, at home amputations, how the worst of us can come out in scary situations, why you should always wear the right shoes for the situation, and a study of relationships that you don't want to be in.

What I think makes this book enjoyable is that even though the villain is supernatural (and super creative, I mean, evil plants that mimic you and get you in trouble?) the strongest thread in the book comes down to humanity under pressure. How long do you hold on hope when you are facing nearly certain death? Is hope ever a bad thing? Is it better to be realistic? 

 I'm not a frequent reader of the horror genre (and when I say this I mean, like literally never) but this was kind of a fun divergence from my normal reading life. I give it a 3 stars out of 5!

And I love the cover

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