The Ruins
Scott Smith
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Buy *The Ruins* by Scott Smith online

The Ruins
Scott Smith
336 pages
July 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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One would expect any modern young people cast into an unfamiliar and dangerous situation in another country to use their innate survivor skills, at least in theory, pooling their resources to find ways to overcome any conditions until help can be summoned. That would be in an ordinary scenario. Unfortunately for these travelers, their situation is anything but ordinary; a threat that is all but incomprehensible requires more than the usual human response to danger.

Jeff and Amy, Eric and Stacy are American couples vacationing in the Yucatan before returning to resume their real lives at home. On their vacation they have met a number of new friends, among them Mattias, a German, in Cozumel, and three crazy, party-loving Greeks in Cancun. All of them find common ground in the sun-baked days and nights of revel at the local bars.

They havenít met Henrich, Mattiasís younger brother, who has run off with a woman working on an archeological dig in the interior. Matthias decides to take a day trip to check on Henrich and his new romance; the two American couples and the only sober Greek decide they are up for an adventure and accompany Matthias on the excursion.

The six young people hire a taxi to deliver them to the site, not dissuaded when the driver remarks that this is not a good place. Hopping from the taxi with the few supplies theyíve packed, the six set out on their search, following the roughly drawn map Henrich has provided with much difficulty, still blissfully unaware of what awaits them.

As the all-but-invisible enemy is revealed, the growing threat is almost too bizarre to comprehend, let alone construct a reasonable plan to survive. Only Jeff and Matthias remain clear-headed, at least for a time, while the others fall victim to their emotions. When the Greek is injured on a search into a mine shaft, the once-hopeful group rapidly loses focus and succumbs to their fears.

The trajectory of the plot of The Ruins defies the imagination, macabre and perfectly executed. The exact nature of their peril increasingly evident, the tourists go through all the stages of awareness, denial, rage, submission and acceptance of the inevitable. Confronted with the implacability of nature, each character is taxed to the limits of his resources, trapped in a nightmare that defies logic.

In A Simple Plan, Smith peeled away the layers of duplicity of his greedy protagonists; the avidly-awaited The Ruins delves even further into the dark subconscious, exploring manís ability to survive enormous odds, the fracturing of community and the stunning revelation of helplessness when faced with the unimaginable.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2006

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