My second book for the New Classics Challenge is The Ruins by Scott Smith. When my husband took a gander at the “new classics” list, he said he wanted to read this one. He said it wasn’t a book I would probably like; not my typical read. I thought that I would go outside the box with this one and I gave it a try. My husband read it before me and he’s been dying for me to finish so we can discuss it and then rent the movie.
Well, I finished this afternoon and my husband was right, this is not my typical book. I never read a horror book before. I don’t read Stephen King or anything like it. The scariest thing I think I’ve read is The Book of Lost Things which was scary in a whole different way.
That being said, I have to say I thought this was a good book. I’m not sure I enjoyed it, but I definitely think it was a good book — just not in my genre of choice. Scott Smith is an unbelievable writer. His descriptions of things happening in this book were amazing. I could picture things vividly, which in this case made my stomach turn on more than one occasion (and my skin crawl). I’ll provide one example to show his ability, but skip it if you’re squeamish.
The dog was covered in ticks, Stacy noticed. Dozens of them, like so many raisins hanging off his belly: fat, blood-engorged. She could see others moving through his pelt, and she stood up quickly, pushing the dog away from her, but to no avail.
When I read this, I could picture that dog and it made me cringe. I’m sure that’s what a horror writer is going for, right? That was just the beginning. This book is quite gruesome so if that’s not your thing, skip it.
Now, I was surprised by the characters in this book. There are six main characters, but the story is told from the differing perspectives of the four Americans. It is told in the third person and switches from person to person as the story unfolds. This, actually, took a little time to get used to, but I found it effective in understanding the dynamics. I sort of wanted to get the other two character’s perspectives, too, but I can understand why the author “ignored” them. Those two were just part of the story, not the story themselves, like the four 20-somethings on their last fling in Mexico before starting “real” life after college.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not always good at “getting the hidden meaning” and I haven’t talked about the book yet with my husband who I’m sure has some insight into this. But, I was fascinated on how these people acted when they were in danger and facing death and how the “horror” was able to use the characters’ flaws against them. It was quite ingenious.
After reading this novel, I can appreciate this genre when it is done well. It’s just not a genre that I’m that jazzed about. I am glad I gave it a try and I thank my husband and this challenge for giving me that little push to try something different. Now, I just have to decide if I have the stomach to watch this movie. I don’t know if I can stomach it. I’ll keep you posted.