So at my second job I have been listening to a ton of audiobooks. For those who have never tried one before you definitely should. They are both enjoyable and super convenient when you don’t have time to pick up a book but have the time to multitask and listen to one. Now that being said, I have listened to many great ones. Some that flew by. Some that made me laugh out loud and make my co-workers give me dirty looks as they walked past me. Some that made me cry -yes, even us tough guys cry at sad parts in books (it really was a sad moment). However, some books are so utterly boring, uninteresting and drawn out that it makes you just beg the book to be over. The Ruins, by Scott B. Smith is that book.
A few years ago I had already seen the film adaptation and thought it was pretty decent as far as horror movies go. I am a huge horror movie fan so when I say its decent that’s a good sign as I think most horror movies kinda suck these days. Anyways, I found out that the movie was based on the book and made a note to read it soon. Needless to say I read it years later and wow was it a let down. The best way to describe it is “Ughhh why won’t this thing just end”. So the premise of the book is four college age young people: Jeff, Amy, Eric and Stacey, go on a last hurrah trip to Cancun before starting medical school and the next parts of their lives (I know right? College people going on a trip that leads to certain death…super cliche). They meet up with a young German man named Mathias who is searching for his missing brother. Mathias convinces the group and a Greek friend they met to help find the missing brother and so they travel to the jungle and get chased up a giant Mayan ruin covered in vines with blood red flowers. Okay, so not a horrible premise. I’ve heard plenty worse. To sum up the 400 page book, the group gets trapped on the hill, find out the vines are evil and then.. well you can guess the rest, it is a horror novel after all and I don’t want to spoil it.
This painful read was literally a 400 page story about character development. While character development is very important to a story it doesn’t take 400 pages to do it. It also helps when you actually care about the characters. The whole time I just wanted these people to die so the book would be over. But no. Of course it had to drag on and on about absolutely nothing. Smith tried to describe setting but honestly, there is no setting. The whole thing takes place on the ruins and once they describe it once it doesn’t EVER change. I had to go through 9 out of 12 discs before the first person died and then another 2 discs after that for the next person. That is just unacceptable when it comes to a horror novel. No, that’s not true. If the book is good or interesting then its fine. But for this its just mind-numbingly boring. Even when a character was dying Smith still tried to develop the character… Like WHY?! Literally it was like “I’m stabbed in the chest… one time at the zoo..” Just no. Just die and go away so the book can end and I can move on and be done with all of you. Out of all the characters, Stacey was the least annoying as I felt she was the most real(ish). There was one moment in the book when they joked about their lives being turned into a movie and which cliche they each would be. I guess that was pretty funny.
I suppose the whole struggle to survive premise was good and could be realistic if there was ever a situation where people were trapped on a hill with killer vines that could talk, make smells and eat you. Or maybe that’s just me being bitter about this book. I guess I should also say that the book isn’t completely horrible. It’s not completely without merit. It was actually well written so that’s always a plus. Another good thing is its a horror novel with an interesting premise, which can be hard to come by. So look at that! Two positive things about the book.
So, is the book worth the read? Well, that is up to you to decide. Do I regret reading it? Well, mostly. Too late to look back now. I’ve moved on to better books. So, I kinda hate to do this, with my librarian education and all, but seriously… just go watch the movie. It’s an hour and half, the characters still kinda suck but it takes a whole lot less time than reading the book. (Also they greatly change character roles around so that sucks – but if you’re only watching the movie, who cares!). Just give the book a pass and save yourself the agony of this snore fest.
PS. Check out the trailer here!