I've been having one of those weeks where I must satisfy the cravings of whatever I'm longing to read. I suppose it might be because I've had a really tough week in many ways--the car problems being only the icing on the cake so to speak. Reading is one of my greatest comforts and so the review pile has been neglected in favor of trying to satisfy the demanding reader within. :)
The Ruins has been sitting on the TBR pile for well over a year, but every time I've considered picking it up, the size of it has turned me away. Well not this week. It seemed just the thing for my mood, so I happily tucked it away in my purse yesterday.
Now when I say "it seemed just the thing for my mood" I really had no idea what it was about. I knew it was some kind of horror book that had mixed reactions and had been made into a movie. Based on the title, I actually thought it might be like that horror movie The Descent, or another B horror movie I watched similar to The Descent that I watched. (can't remember the title for the life of me!) Well, it's really not like those, though it has a few small similarities.
I really shouldn't have been put off by the size because trust me, I blew through this book in two days. It's a riveting page turner, full of tension and mystery. I was pleasantly surprised by just how literary it is...meaning it's not your cheap genre horror book, (I apologize for the stereotype!) the characterization is outstanding, the relationships carefully spun and developed, the language satisfying.
The Ruins is about two young American couples who are in Cancun for vacation. There, they meet various new friends from other countries including Mathias a German and three Greeks who call themselves by Spanish names. Mathias's brother left and went to visit an archaeological site with a girl he met, leaving behind nothing but a map. At first Mathias chooses to ignore this, but finally decides he must go after him. The Americans and one of the Greeks decide to go as well.
They set out to this remote location and actually have some difficulty finding it. When they do finally find the location of the map, the nearby villagers surround them and trap them on the hillside.
And so it begins. This is one of those books that tackles the question of survival, and there's something about that kind of story that really fascinates me. (LOST, The Hunger Games, My Hands Came Away Red) But it is a horror novel, so the characters are actively fighting against something that wants to destroy them. To tell you the truth, I was in many ways shocked at how little time actually passed from when they first found themselves trapped on the hill to the end. The tension is thick as they face huge difficulties. And while a lot happens....in some ways it seems like nothing really happens. As I was reading through some reviews, I saw some people thought it could have been a short story. I suppose so, but then you'd never have the characterization and interplay between the characters.
This is another story that consumed my thoughts. These kinds of books make it hard to go to work and read blogs or watch TV or you know, sleep. Even after finishing, I had scenes from the book surfacing in my mind. Not everything gets wrapped up in a nice tidy package...much like life, there are unanswered questions, huge unanswered questions. We never know any more than the characters do.
While I'd like to discuss some themes from the book, I fear spoiling it. I think this book is best entered into knowing little about it. I have considered watching the movie, but I have no doubt it will be gory. Perhaps too gory to enjoy. I'll probably cave and try watching it at some point anyway.
So if you have some time on your hands and are looking for a creepy page turner, I definitely recommend this one. It took me just two days to power through all 500 pages and I'm so glad I did.
Things You Might Want to Know: there's some language though not as bad as one might expect in real life, a little bit of sex, and definite gore.
I would love to talk about this book with someone! I'm sure many of you have read it, since it was a best-seller and published three years ago. Feel free to chat away with me in comments!