Genres: Fiction, General, Thrillers, Espionage, Horror
Reading Challenges: 2016 Horror Reading Challenge, COYER Summer Vacation
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine.
Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . . . and the terrifying presence that lurks there.
I saw the film adaptation years ago, so it kind of ruined an surprises in the book. However, Scott Smith’s The Ruins is still a must-read horror novel. Five young people travel to the Mexican jungle in search of one of their brothers, who was visiting a friend at an archeological site. When they arrive, the friends discover an old abandoned pyramid in the middle of the jungle. As they explore the ancient ruins for signs of their friend, they wind up in the midst of a terrifying situation.
The Ruins is a suspenseful, psychological thriller. For much of the novel, not much happens. The friends have fun on the beach, and make friends with some other foreigners. Readers get a glimpse at the dynamics between the friends which consists of two couples, who find themselves on their last big trip before going off in different directions. Once Smith takes the characters from the fun setting of the beach, and plants them in the jungle, the tensions between the friends rises. As the danger escalates, the friends have to decide how much their friendship means if they want to survive.
While I loved the story as a whole, I didn’t particularly buy into the characters. They were just too stereotypical to relate to, and thus I never cared about whether or not they’d survive. You have Jeff and Amy (the brunettes). Jeff is the serious Boy Scout who plans on being a doctor, while Amy is his neurotic girlfriend. Eric and Stacey are the blondes. Eric is the typical clown, who just wants to get by, while Stacey is the slut. Then there’s Mathias, the German, who must be a Nazi. Ugh! None of the characters were very likable, and so that put a damper on the story for me. However, despite my dislike of the characters, Smith’s story is otherwise well-written, and engrossing. Yet, I wouldn’t recommend this novel to the squeamish. There is some serious body horror in this tale that isn’t for the faint of heart.
Book to Screen
The novel was adapted into film in 2008, and starred Jena Malone, Jonathan Tucker, and Shawn Ashmore. Having both read the novel and watched the film, I can say they are very close in detail. However, I did note some differences. Mainly, the ending, and some events in the book happen to different characters in the film. I can’t divulge too much without spoiling, but differences won’t cause anyone to not enjoy either the film or novel. Yet, I think it’s better to read the book first before seeing the film, as you’ll ruin the experience. If you’d like to check this book out, but don’t have the time, I recommend watching the film. They’re so close that you won’t miss much.