Isolation is a scary word, it induces many feelings and frightening thoughts depicting unnerving situations of varying panic and terror.
Every person alive would like to think that if ever in a dire situation they could arise to the occasion and be the best version of themselves possible, that instincts would allow them to survive in spite of the odds.
In the book The Ruins, Scott Smith confines us to the breaking point of internal strength, and leaves us in a futile situation where death is tapping us on our shoulder.
Like his introductory novel A Simple Plan, Smith depicts ordinary characters that are placed in unusual situations,demanding readers to reflect on their own personal compromises if placed in the most severe situation.
The book is about two college couples on a trip to Cancun, another boy they become friendly with asks for them to join him on a trek to the outskirts of the city in order to find his brother who visited an archaeological dig. They follow a map left by the lost brother to a backwoods area miles outside the city,eventually leading them to an off shoot path revealing an open field with a large hill in the dead center.
After a confrontation with a local villager they are quarantined by gun point onto the hill, discovering that it is covered with a carnivorous vine that comparatively makes the Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors look empathetic.
The six youths are exiled on this hill by local villagers who by threat of death prevent their escape, while at the same time they are methodically preyed upon by this ensnaring creature, they gradually succumb to desolation and misery.The author meticulously uses each character and their development to represent various personality traits individuals would illustrate when faced with desperate circumstances. The vine as an antagonist acts as a symbolic agent of death, a looming presence of impending doom about to strike whenever their guard is let down. Hopeless survival is the true villain in this book and the torturous aspect of faith to be held on to and the possibility that help is on it’s way.
How easy when removed physically from any scenario to quickly choose a course of action? The author sharply and sometimes uncomfortably makes the reader approach each incident from multiple points of view. Imposing consideration into the fact that the answer is not always so easy and choosing a course of action can be painstakingly impossible with out grim consequences.
Isolation and solitude is a frightening and terrifying concept, especially when imminent death is apparent, The Ruins conceptually forces that down your throat with a spoonful of salt and vinegar, making you gag on the idea that even though your are confident of your own survival instincts, would it be enough to endure? By the end you will be secretly praying for the souls of these fictional characters and at the same time grateful that it is only a book.