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Monday, August 21, 2006

Screamer of the Summer

As a former English teacher, one of the first things I always told my students was that mistakes are an inevitable part of life. We should accept them and move on. In the words of Sean Bateman from Bret Easton Ellis' Rules of Attraction: "Deal with it. Rock and Roll."

As such, I'm not going to linger on the fact that I said some bad things about Scott Smith's summer blockbuster of terror The Ruins. I wanted to NOT like it before even READING it. If I want my quotes to come back to haunt me, I called the writing "horrid". I also then re-used the word "horrid" a sentence later for something else. Now, who am I to judge horrid writing? HORRID!


Everybody makes mistakes. And maybe it's been my distaste for admission of error, or maybe it's how hard we at Chapter 11* Books are getting into gear for the upcoming Decatur Book Fest, of which you'll see more information on here very very soon. Either way, I have yet to come back and say what needs to be said:

For all my high-brow literary Joyce love, The Ruins disturbed the heck out of me.

The Ruins is a triumph of a summer book, one straight-for-the-jugular cut that throws the reader off-track on a wild goose chase from the start, by simply laying the plot out one piece at a time in such a way that it's seemingly impossible. Many times throughout the book, I found myself gasping in fear or wretching in grossed-out throes of disgust, all the while checking the number of pages left and thinking "this can't be happening".

Ok, Catch-22 it ain't...or is it? There are hard, hard choices to be made by these friends trapped in the middle of nowhere, Mexico, forced to live (and die) by their wits.

There's a reason why reviews of The Ruins are so minimal on plot detail, and so chockablock with synonyms for "eeeeew": you KNOW what's going to happen, and how it's going to happen, from page 1, but the beauty of the modern adult conscious mind keeps the full horror from sinking in until the end. And it's the unraveling of all you consider holy that keeps this book full-force until the last beautifully horrific page.

This, to me, is the ideal summer book: a compelling, quick read. Though I may be partial to the more literary works of the summer (such as Dominion) when the end of the year comes, but as far as Summer Book Blockbuster? The Ruins is it.

Have you read The Ruins? Thoughts? Love it? Hate it? What has been your favorite summer read thus far? Comment and let us know!

--Russ Marshalek

Do yourself a favor! Buy The Ruins at 30% off NOW!


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