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The Ruins
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About the Author

Scott Smith was educated at Dartmouth College and Columbia University. He lives in New York City.

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Four American tourists vacationing in Cancun make friends with a German traveler and join the hunt for his brother, who has mysteriously vanished after following a new flame to an archeological site. But inadequate planning, horrendous conditions and unforeseen dangers quickly turn this jungle adventure into a fight for survival. The novel itself is creepy, compelling and simple in scope, but the audiobook adaptation doesn't quite succeed in relating the feeling of dread the text imparts. Wilson reads in an assured (if somewhat flat) voice in the tenor range, but his tone often seems too light to properly convey the novel's dark and foreboding mood. He also doesn't do much to differentiate between the characters; although Smith has characters who feel very real and distinct, listeners could have used more help from the narrator to distinguish one point-of-view from the next. A book like this one which presents the story from several different POVs would have benefited from a team of talented narrators to help bring the narrative to life. Regrettably, Wilson goes it alone, delivering a sufficient but mediocre performance. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, May 15). (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-Two American couples just out of college head to Mexico for a sun- and tequila-filled vacation. They befriend some like-minded Greek tourists and a German man whose brother has followed an archaeologist to the site of her dig. The Americans and one of the Greeks decide to go into the jungle to help Matthias find his brother. Blissfully ignorant, they head off with minimal rations, but lots of tequila. Despite all warning signs, they continue to a desolate Mayan village whose residents seem intent on keeping them away. Once American Amy steps off the path into a patch of vines, things suddenly change. As in A Simple Plan (Knopf, 1993), Smith creates a gripping story in which each character's uncertainties and human frailties are as horrific as the actual horror around them. Though the story is told in the third person, each American spends time as a protagonist, giving readers an understanding of his or her fears and motivations. This also allows readers to second-guess the characters. The book has no chapter breaks, which echoes the long and dreadful adventure. Even though only a few days pass, it feels much longer, as the plot moves minute-by-minute through each day. The ending is highly satisfactory and perfectly tragic. Though there are some brief scenes of gore, most of the suspense is psychological, but no less frightening. Fans of everything from Jurassic Park to Lost to Stephen King will love this book.-Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

A group of young twentysomething tourists vacationing in Cancun impetuously agrees to make an expedition into the wilds when one of their group fails to return from his day trip to the Mayan ruins. Following a hand-drawn map that evokes strong negative reactions from assorted locals (the language barrier doesn't help), the tourists quickly find themselves ill-prepared for the task. No longer does the trip resemble a television-style reality show; now it's more like a haunted jungle. Their plight becomes increasingly dire as they are herded off to a mountaintop and held hostage by armed Mayan-like people they realize are the same villagers who killed their lost cohort. The horror factor ratchets up as unexplainable, creepy elements compete with the basic fight for survival. And did we mention the problem of the local vegetation? Once again, Smith (A Simple Plan) deftly explores psychological tension and insidious fears. Fans of Alex Garland's The Beach and Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park won't put be able to put this one down. A perfect beach read; just don't stray too far from the lifeguard. For all popular fiction collections. Teresa L. Jacobsen, Solano Cty. Lib., Fairfield, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"The best horror novel of the new century."--Stephen King "The Ruins does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches."--Entertainment Weekly "The most disturbing novel of the year." --Time "Smith's nail-biting tension is a pleasure all its own. . . . This stuff isn't for the faint of heart." --New York Post "A story so scary you may never want to go on vacation, or dig around in your garden, again." --USA Today "A smart, clean-burning horror machine."--New York Times Book Review "A classic horror story, told with mounting, detail. Smith spins it out relentlessly, piling chill on chill on chill. . . . What happens, and needless to say it's not good, is something readers will race page after flapping page to discover. When they do, they will find-well, better set aside eight or nine hours reading time, keep the lights on, and make sure the plants are still in their pots."--Bill Bell, The Daily News "A fast-paced suspense novel that grabs you and refuses to let go. . . Smith's characterization and timing-the ability to deliver one quick blow after antoher-makes the book so freakishly fun. . . . The story turns grotesque, but Smith's command of his characters and their demons is masterful. . . . The Ruins is chilling, an icy dissection of human nature in a hot, horrifying place."--John Caniglia, The Cleveland Plain Dealer "An exercise in unremitting tension . . . Smith writes in clear, vivid language with elegant sentences."--Diane Scharper, The Baltimore Sun "One of the most terrifying, creepy, riveting novels that will hit the bookstores this summer. . . . Smith sculpts each of the characters, making us care very much about what happens to these young, naive and sometimes selfish individuals. . . . The Ruins has a claustrophobic feel, which adds to the palpatations of suspense. The great outdoors might as well be a dark, dingy basement full of things that go bump in the night as Smith finds new ways to frighten with his setting."--Oline H. Cogdill, The Sun-Sentinel "Reading Scott Smith is like having a rope tied firmly round your middle, as you're pulled on protesting tiptoes toward a door marked DOOM. . . . Smith is a master of the 'if only' scenario, that most foolish and pungent form of regret . . . At its heart, The Ruins is an old-fashioned horror story, and it's the invasive, intuitive killer that provides the ice-water dread. . . . It's Thomas Harris meets Poe in a decidedly timely story: Smith has tapped into our anxieties about global warming, lethal weather, supergerms-our collective fear that nature is finally battling back-and given us a decidedly organic nightmare. Grade: A-.--Gillian Flynn, Entertainment Weekly "Once again, Smith (A Simple Plan) deftly explores psychological tension and insidious fears. A perfect beach read; just don't stray too far from the lifeguard."--Library Journal "A word of caution to readers, gentle and otherwise: Do not pick up a copy of Scott Smith's The Ruins if you have anything else you need to do in the next eight hours or so. Don't start this book if you're especially weak of stomach or nerves, and above all don't pick it up if you're not willing to tolerate some deviation from the usual conventions of thrillers and horror stories. . . . The Ruins is like all great genre fiction in its irresistible storytelling momentum, but in its lack of mercy, it's more like real life. . . . The Ruins is ruthlessly frank about how most of us really behave in extremis. The escalating nightmare of the group's fate evolves inexorably from their personalities, in a way reminiscent of Greek tragedy, so Smith couldn't get away with the flimsy figurines that populate more genre fiction. In The Ruins, all of the characters and their vexed interrrelationships are richly and carefully drawn because, in a way, they are the story. . . . Scott Smith shows us an aspect of ourselves and of human nature we'd rather not acknowledge. He's such a master, though, that it's impossible to look away.--Laura Miller, Salon

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