Saturday, January 19, 2008
Anyway, author Scott Smith gave us A Simple Plan back in 1993, so you'd hope he would transfer his skill at building tension and suspense from that noir-ish story to the horror arena. You'd hope wrong. It's hard to imagine telling a writer who publishes his second novel nearly 13 years after his first that he should have taken some more time with the book, but it's also hard to imagine a much more pedestrian horror novel than The Ruins.
Smith gives his story away in the first 50 pages of this 330-plus page novel, and I mean that literally. Bottom of page 50, you learn everything that will happen through the rest of the book. I refer to the hardcover edition. Paperback readers, your mileage may vary.
The one thing The Ruins does well doesn't help -- Smith earns an A+ for stressing the callow nature of his characters. I not only didn't care what happened to them, I had to keep turning back to the front of the book to remind myself which one was which.
But Stephen King says he liked it, and the echo chamber reverberates with praise for The Ruins as a "real page-turner," so a lot of people will donate their time and money to it. Me, I'm pretty sure I'll have to clean the cat's litterbox that day, so I'll be busy.