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The Ruins (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 18. Juli 2006

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Amazon.de

In 1993, Scott Smith wowed readers with A Simple Plan, his stunning debut thriller about what happens when three men find a wrecked plane and bag stuffed with over 4 million dollars--a book that Stephen King called "Simply the best suspense novel of the year!" Now, thirteen years after writing a novel that turned into a pretty great movie featuring Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton, Smith is back, with The Ruins, a horror-thriller about four Americans traveling in Mexico who stumble across a nightmare in the jungle. Who better to tell readers if Smith has done it again than the undisputed King of Horror (and champion of Smith's first book)? We asked Stephen King to read The Ruins and give us his take. Check out his review below. --Daphne Durham


Guest Reviewer: Stephen King

Stephen King is the author of too many bestselling books to name here, but some of our favorites include: Cell, The Stand, On Writing, The Shining, and the entire Dark Tower series. King also received the National Book Foundation 2003 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, has had many movies and television miniseries adapted from his novels, short stories, and screenplays, and is a regular columnist for Entertainment Weekly. Keep your eyes peeled for Lisey's Story (October 2006), a new television series on TNT based on Nightmares & Dreamscapes (July 2007), and a graphic novel series based on the Dark Tower books coming from Marvel (2007).

When I heard that Scott Smith was publishing a new novel this summer, I felt the way I did when my kids came in an hour or two late from their weekend dates: a combination of welcoming relief (thank God you're back) mingled with exasperation and anger (where the hell have you been?). Well, it's only a book, you say, and maybe that's true, but Scott Smith is a singularly gifted writer, and it seems to me that the twelve years between his debut--the cult smash A Simple Plan--and his return this summer with The Ruins is cause for exasperation, if not outright anger. Certainly Smith, who has been invisible save for his Academy Award-nominated screenplay for the film version of A Simple Plan, will have some 'splainin to do about how he spent his summer vacation. Make that his last twelve summer vacations.

But enough. The new book is here, and the question devotees of A Simple Plan will want answered is whether or not this book generates anything like Plan's harrowing suspense. The answer is yes. The Ruins is going to be America's literary shock-show this summer, doing for vacations in Mexico what Jaws did for beach weekends on Long Island. Is it as successful and fulfilling as a novel? The answer is not quite, but I can live with that, because it's riskier. There will be reviews of this book by critics who have little liking or understanding for popular fiction who'll dismiss it as nothing but a short story that has been bloated to novel length (I'm thinking of Michiko Kakutani, for instance, who microwaved Smith's first book). These critics, who steadfastly grant pop fiction no virtue but raw plot, will miss the dazzle of Smith's technique; The Ruins is the equivalent of a triple axel that just misses perfection because something's wrong with the final spin.

It's hard to say much about the book without giving away everything, because the thing is as simple and deadly as a leg-hold trap concealed in a drift of leaves…or, in this case, a mass of vines. You've got four young American tourists--Eric, Jeff, Amy, and Stacy--in Cancun. They make friends with a German named Mathias whose brother has gone off into the jungle with some archeologists. These five, plus a cheerful Greek with no English (but a plentiful supply of tequila), head up a jungle trail to find Mathias's brother…the archaeologists…and the ruins.

Well, two out of three ain't bad, according to the old saying, and in this case; what's waiting in the jungle isn't just bad, it's horrible. Most of The Ruins's 300-plus pages is one long, screaming close-up of that horror. There's no let-up, not so much as a chapter-break where you can catch your breath. I felt that The Ruins did draw on a trifle, but I found Scott Smith's refusal to look away heroic, just as I did in A Simple Plan. It's the trappings of horror and suspense that will make the book a best seller, but its claim to literature lies in its unflinching naturalism. It's no Heart of Darkness, but at its suffocating, terrifying, claustrophobic best, it made me think of Frank Norris. Not a bad comparison, at that.

One only hopes Mr. Smith won't stay away so long next time.--Stephen King



Pressestimmen

Praise for
Scott Smith’s
The Ruins

“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

“Aficionados of the horror-suspense genre can start breathing again, but only for a minute: Author Scott Smith has returned with a new shocker. . . . The action is swift and the suspense is positively unflinching . . . Smith’s nail-biting tension is a pleasure all its own and what fans of the genre expect. No let up and no let down–this stuff isn’t for the faint of heart.”
–Peter Pavia, New York Post

“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

“Please, please let this be the most disturbing novel of the year. . . . Smith (A Simple Plan) writes with psychological acuity and real beauty, yet he doesn’t pull any punches.”
–Lev Grossman, Time

“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

“What Stephen King did for cars with Christine and for dogs with Cujo, Scott Smith does for creepy foliage (and yes, it’s horrifying!) in his new thriller, The Ruins. It has been 13 years since Smith’s thriller A Simple Plan rocked best-seller lists. Now he’s back with a story so scary you may never want to go on vacation, or dig around in your garden, again. . . . If you love ABC’s Lost and the novels of King and Thomas Harris, you’ll love this book.”
–Carol Memmott, USA Today

“The book of the summer. . . . No quietly building, Ruth Rendell-style suspense here; Smith intends to scare the bejabbers out of you, and succeeds. There are no chapters and no cutaways–The Ruins is your basic long scream of horror. It does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches in 1975. . . . It works well enough, I think, to be the book most people will be talking about this summer. Enjoy the beach . . . enjoy the books . . . and watch out for those Mexican ruins.”
–Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly

“Scott Smith is a singularly gifted writer . . . The new book is here, and the question devotees of A Simple Plan will want answered is whether or not this book generates anything like Plan’s harrowing suspense. The answer is yes. The Ruins is going to be America’s literary shock-show this summer, doing for vacations in Mexico what Jaws did for beach weekends on Long Island. . . . Most of The Ruins’s 300-plus pages is one long, screaming close-up of horror. There’s no let-up, not so much as a chapter-break where you can catch your breath. . . . I found Scott Smith’s refusal to look away heroic . . . It’s the trappings of horror and suspense that will make the book a best seller, but its claim to literature lies in its unflinching naturalism. It’s no Heart of Darkness, but at its suffocating, terrifying, claustrophobic best, it made me think of Frank Norris. Not a bad comparison, at that. One only hopes Mr. Smith won't stay away so long next time.”
–Stephen King, Amazon.com

“At long last, Smith follows up his bestselling first novel, A Simple Plan, with a stunning horror thriller. . . . Smith builds suspense through the slow accretion of telling details . . . Eerie . . . Compelling.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Praise for A Simple Plan by Scott Smith:


“Simply the best suspense novel of this year—hell, of the 1990s. Think of James M. Cain, think of Thomas Harris—even think of Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, to which Smith’s book bears a weird thematic resemblance . . . think of whomever you want, but read this book. Better than any ‘best-selling’ suspense novel to hit the lists since Silence of the Lambs.”
—Stephen King

“[It] fulfills every expectation of a novel of suspense, leading the reader on a wild exploration of the banality of evil . . . Smith demonstrates the eerie ease with which the mundane can descend to the unthinkable . . . Smith’s imagination never palls.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The reader is drawn along by fascination. It’s like watching a train wreck: there is nothing to be done, but it is impossible to turn away . . . an almost tragic tale of pure greed . . . as compelling [as] The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”
Chicago Tribune

“The year’s finest literary shivers . . . A beautifully controlled piece of writing, all the more impressive for being the debut of its author.”
Entertainment Weekly

A Simple Plan works a devastating variation on the idea of the banality of evil . . . Beautifully controlled and disturbing . . . Cunningly imagined.”
The New York Times Book Review

“It is remarkable to read such a terrifying work expressed in such a seductively reasonable voice. A work of singular power, carrying within it a moral that might well be a metaphor for a society in love with wretched excess.”
The Washington Post

“Electrifying . . . An eerily flat confessional whose horror is only deepened by its flashes of tenderness. Think of a backwater James M. Cain, or a contemporary midwestern Unforgiven–and don’t think about getting any sleep tonight.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Astonishing.”
Vanity Fair

“Its unveiling of a conspiracy of greed gone wrong couldn’t be more finely calibrated. Its lithe rendering of how partners-in-crime become predators bent on destroying one another recalls B. Traven’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre or the better work of Jim Thompson (The Grifters, After Dark, My Sweet).”
The Boston Globe

“That rare and satisfying combination: a compulsive thriller which also happens to be a beautifully-written and original work of art.”
—Robert Harris

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Die Geschichte an sich könnte ja wirklich spannend sein, aber....
Der Autor versteht es einfach nicht, mehr draus zu machen. 2 junge Pärchen, ein Deutscher und ein Grieche, der kein Wort Englisch oder Spanisch spricht gehen in den Dschungel - falsch angezogen (Sandalen, kurzärmlige Hemden etc) und mit wenig Ausrüstung und Lebensmittel, um den verschwundenen Bruder des deutschen Freundes zu suchen.
So weit, so gut. Eine spannende Ausgangslage. Jedoch folgend dann hunderte von Seiten, in denen sich die Geschichte überhaupt nicht entwickelt. Unsere Freunde kämpfen ums Überleben, aber man erfährt nichts genaues: Was hat es mit der Pflanze auf sich, was mit den Ruinen, was mit den Mayas?
So bleibt man nach Ende des Buches ratlos zurück. Was sollte das alles? Die wenige Handlung, die hier stattfindet, hätte man auch auf 50 Seiten erzählen können! Und es hätte so viel Möglichkeiten gegeben, eine komplexe Geschichte mit Hintergrund zu erzählen....

Fazit: Nicht empfehlenswert.
Vielleicht für einen Urlaub im Dschungel als spannende, gruslige Lektüre geeignet, ansonsten nur eine Aneinanderreihung von Unfällen und ekligen Szenen, ohne Erklärung, ohne Auflösung. Nur ärgerlich!
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Durch Zufall habe ich die Verfilmung des Buchs im Fernsehen gesehen und das Buch spontan bestellt. Es dreht sich um eine monströse, (Menschen-)Fleisch fressende Pflanze, die im mexikanischen Dschungel haust und sich eine Gruppe argloser, jugendlicher Touristen auf einem Abenteuertrip zu Gemüte führt. Warum sie das tut, oder was für eine Pflanze das ist, erfährt der Leser nicht. Im Buch bleibt es bei vagen Andeutungen. Auch wenn das Buch "Ruins" heisst, bleibt der Verfasser den Grund für diesen Titel schuldig. Zwar erfährt man, wenn man den Film sieht, dass es sich bei dem Hügel, auf dem die Pflanze haust, um eine alte Pyramide handelt, im Buch wird diese Detail mit keinem Wort erwähnt....

Ansonsten ist die Erzählung ein Höllenritt durch teils extrem blutige Ereignisse. Das Buch steckt zwar voller Widersprüche und logischer Brüche, was das Lesevergnügen aber nur geringfügig mindert. Letzteres bleibt aber auf einem intellektuell nicht sonderlich anspruchsvollen Niveau. Wer das im Hinterkopf hat und Grusel mag (wie ich) ist hier bestens bedient. Schade übrigens, dass es das Buch nicht als Download gibt. Dafür und für die etwas konstruierte Geschichte gibt's einen Stern Abzug.
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I got interested because of the title and the recommendation of Stephen King. There are no ruins, just a mine shaft! After page 50 there is not much development and I only read on to get some explanations, but none are ever given. I could not read the book before sleeping (too disgusting) and at page 350 I finally gave up and read the end(something I never do!). No surprise at all there and no hint to why things happened. The book left me rather frustrated: a waste of time, it should be a short story only! No need to read through 500 pages. It is not believable that young Greeks travelling to Mexico speek no English at all and that the Maya do not speek Spanish. For me the book is a waste of time!
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Sechs junge Mexiko-Urlauber geraten auf einem Tagesausflug in den Dschungel in Schwierigkeiten. Scott Smith braucht etwa vierzig Seiten, um dieses Szenario vorzubereiten, und danach nimmt der sprichwörtliche Schrecken tatsächlich kein Ende mehr.

Es gibt keine Ruhe- oder Atempause, gnadenlos bringt der Autor seine Charaktere von einer ausweglosen Situation in die nächste und schreckt auch vor der detaillierten Beschreibung diverser Unappetitlichkeiten nicht zurück. Der Roman hätte handlungsmäßig gut in einer Kurzgeschichte Platz gefunden, allzu viele Verwicklungen gibt es nicht, aber erst auf den vollen 400 Seiten entfaltet die wachsende Hilf- und Machtlosigkeit der Figuren und das Grauen seine furchtbare Wirkung: selten hat mich ein Buch derart mitgenommen. Die Figuren sind überzeugend gezeichnet, die psychologischen Dramen glaubwürdig dargestellt. Für einen abgebrühten Veteran diverser Stephen Kings und anderer "Spannungsliteratur" ist "The Ruins" eine willkommene, frische und effektive Abwechslung in einem Genre, das sonst längst nur mäßig beeindruckende Klischees zu bieten hat.

Deshalb sieht man auch gern über einige unwahrscheinliche Plot-Entwicklungen hinweg.
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Of course "The Ruins" shows up during the hottest summer in many a years, with the humidity rising and the smell of vegetation heavy in the air. That makes it easier for you to slip into Scott Smith's second novel, mindlessly drinking ice water as you go along to keep some distance between yourself and these ill-fated characters. I am sure the publishing of "The Ruins" in late July is not happenstance, and that I would expect the paperback version (or the movie adaptation) in that same season as well. This is a book to be read outside in the sun. Having it on the nightstand to read a while before going to sleep, would not be appropriate in this case.

Four Americans are visiting Mexico for three weeks in August, hanging out in the Yucatan where the weather is too hot and too humid. Jeff is the one who came up with the idea of a last fling before he and Amy start medical school in the fall, found a good deal on the Internet, and talked Amy into coming along. She convinced her friend Stacy, who convinced her boyfriend Eric. In the Yucatan they are hanging around with Mathias, a German whose younger brother Henrich has gone missing, and a trio of Greeks who do not speak English and who have adopted the Spanish names Pablo, Juan and Don Quixote. With nothing better to do the four and Pablo decide to join Mathias in an attempt to find his brother. It seems Henrich went off with a blond archeologist who was part of a group working on some ruins. Henrich left a crude map for Mathias and on the basis of that they are heading off into the jungle by taxi.

Suffice it to say that things go wrong and leave it to you to discover the why and how bad parts yourself. I am reminded of a line from Harlan Ellison's "'Repent, Harlequin!
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