The Ruins by Scott B. Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When four American college students and a German tourist go on a foray into the Mexican jungle, searching for the German's missing brother, they have no idea of the horror they will find themselves entangled in. Will any of them leave the jungle alive?
I was in the mood for some horror and received recommendations for this book from two highly regarded reviewers. I'm proud to say Kemper and Trudi weren't wrong.
The Ruins is the story of five people who make a serious of questionable choices and wind up trapped on top of a hill with a killer vine terrorizing them. It reminded me of The Troop quite a bit in the way the relationships disintegrated as supplies ran low and the vine got more and more vicious. After one stupid mistake, things quickly fell apart. I'm surprised the characters lasted as long as they did.
This book seems to have a polarising effect among reviewers. Part of it is probably that it straddles the line between horror and thriller, stymying people who like to be able to slap a convenient label on things. The other part is probably the characters. I didn't find any of them overly likeable but I didn't hate any of them either. Sure, I wanted to slap them around from the moment they decided it was a good idea to go for a romp in the Mexican jungle all the way until the end but that's how horror stories of this type go sometimes.
Eric's self-mutilation was one of the creepier parts of the book, made creepier at the end when it turned out he actually had vines inside him. I felt bad for Jeff, trying to hold things together when everyone else seemed continually on the verge of losing his or her shit. I think I would have pushed some assholes down the mineshaft when he came back to find them all drunk.
The vine was creepy but that wasn't a surprise since plants are emotionless monsters. Just look at the Venus Flytrap or watch how quickly plants overtake an abandoned shed or cabin. I didn't have a problem with the plant's intelligence but I will admit that its mimicry was a little far fetched at the end.
While The Ruins isn't your grandma's horror novel, it delivers the goods if you're looking for a tale of desperation and creepiness. Four out of five stars.
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