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The Ruins

February 19th, 2009 by Richard Pipes in Reading EKScursions

The RuinsThe Ruins by Scott Smith (Knopf 2006)

The Ruins is a gripping tale in the mode of Stephen King or Michael Crichton. Smith sets up a seemingly simple yet unsolvable situation for his characters and then stirs up the plot, dragging the reader into a living nightmare. The novel is about four American tourists vacationing in Cancun. While at their resort, they meet a German tourist whose brother has ventured into the jungle to join an archaeological dig. Since it is almost time for the brothers to return to Germany, the Americans volunteer to help their new friend find his brother. Along with a Greek tourist, they all follow the map that the brother left behind. When they finally arrive at the site, they find a steep hill covered in a shiny green vine with beautiful blood-red flowers.

The local Mayan villagers beg the newcomers not to climb the hill, but  language differences block them from explaining why. Once the tourists set foot on the hill, the same Mayans won’t allow them to leave, again unable to explain the reason. Trapped on the hill, the six friends begin to make chilling discoveries about the hill and its mysterious vine.

This is a book that’s very hard to put down. You cannot help but feel trapped along with the tourists as you wonder what you would do in such a predicament. One thing’s for sure: you’ll never look at kudzu in quite the same way again.

Richard Pipes

The Ruinsis no longer held, but if it looks good, you can still get it on InterLibrary Loan.