I’m trying to get back to reading on a regular basis again, and since the Survival Horror genre seems to the only thing that holds my attention on paper lately, I decided to check out the horrorlit subreddit, and The Ruins by Scott Smith was highly recommended. I started reading it on 13 March, intending to stretch it out over a couple of weeks. I ended up finishing it on 17 March, staying in during lunch at work and staying up past midnight to read it. I’d have finished it in one sitting if I had my way, but I’m a responsible employee who puts work before leisure. I still couldn’t help but keep thinking about the story and trying to sneak in some reading during the lighter hours of the work day, it’s that addictive.
The Ruins is a gripping tale of a group of friends on a vacation in Mexico, who find themselves stranded on a hill in the wilderness, surrounded by heavily armed Mayan villagers, after a series of blatantly bad decisions. Unable to escape without being shot at, they have to survive on their meager supplies while waiting for help to come. But the worst is yet to come. A terrifying entity gradually announces its presence, turning their nightmare into living hell.
The writer did well to establish the personalities of the characters through their thoughts and backstories. This made the characters feel relatable, and despite some of them doing questionable deeds and sabotaging their chances, I found myself rooting for them, covering my mouth with my hand (Luckily I’m not a nail biter or my nails would be thoroughly mutilated) and hoping they would be able to escape their desperate situation. They were genuinely good people too who did their best to help each other. I shared their rare bouts of optimism, their pain, their doom and gloom. I hung on desperately to the rare bouts of optimism. I put my face in my palm at the very end.
There are some gruesome parts with lots of bleeding and cutting going on, but nothing too explicit or graphic. The entity is sort of scary, but my favourite part of the book is really about how characters are forced to evaluate difficult decisions for survival, being made to undergo psychological struggles which eventually become the cause of their downfall
After I was done with this book, a few things were running through my mind:
Never go off the beaten track especially without knowing the local’s language. Touristy places are great, at least you get to come back in one piece!
I felt bad for accidentally spilling some of the cats’ water this morning. Water is such a precious commodity.
Carnivorous plants are worst than carnivorous animals. What business does a non-sentient plant have to do with trapping and consuming prey? Something fishy is going on.
YOLO is another acronym for tired of living.
Overall I’m happy with my first foray into regular reading, and the survival horror genre after a long hiatus. I had a great time with this book, it will remain etched in my mind for a long time. But I hope to find a happier book next time. There’s got to be some great survival horror out there with happy endings. I’m sure of it. My next read is going to be A Simple Plan, also by Scott Smith.