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In this audiobook review, we will delve into the unsettling world of Scott Smith’s “The Ruins”. Set in a dangerous and eerie location, this suspenseful and gripping tale offers a masterclass in psychological tension. Whether you are a horror fan or simply love a good thriller, this audiobook is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Throughout this review, we will explore the plot, characters, themes, and more.

Join us as we journey into “The Ruins” and discover why this audiobook is a must-listen for anyone who enjoys a thrilling and immersive listening experience.

Overview of “The Ruins”

Scott Smith’s “The Ruins” is a suspenseful and thrilling novel that takes place in the dense jungles of Mexico. The story follows four American tourists – Jeff, Eric, Stacy, and Amy – and their encounter with a hostile group of indigenous people. The group becomes stranded at the ruins of an ancient Mayan temple after trying to rescue a German archaeologist’s brother who was stranded at the site. The book combines elements of horror, survival, and psychological tension to create an engaging and captivating narrative.

The central conflict in the novel revolves around the group’s attempts to escape the temple while avoiding the dangerous and violent tribe. Along the way, they encounter terrifying obstacles and sinister surprises that test their willpower and endurance.

The main characters are well-developed and complex, with distinct personalities and motivations that drive the plot forward. The setting of the temple ruins, with its eerie and dangerous atmosphere, adds to the tension and suspense of the story.

Some of the key themes explored in the book include the human will to survive, the dangerous consequences of cultural misunderstandings, and the lengths people will go to protect themselves and their loved ones in times of hardship and danger.

Plot Overview

Event Description
Four American tourists Jeff, Eric, Stacy, and Amy meet in Cancun and decide to visit an ancient Mayan temple with a German archaeologist’s brother.
Encounter with tribal people The group makes contact with an indigenous tribe and quickly realizes that they are unwelcome.
Stranded at temple The group becomes stranded at the temple ruins after their guide is killed and they are unable to leave without encountering the tribe.
Attempts to escape The group attempts to escape the temple while avoiding the tribe and facing various challenges along the way.
Twists and turns The story is filled with unexpected twists and surprises, including the discovery of a mysterious plant that the tribe is determined to protect at all costs.

Overall, “The Ruins” is a gripping and suspenseful novel that combines elements of horror, survival, and psychological tension to create an immersive narrative that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Audiobook Narration

In “The Ruins” audiobook, the narrator skillfully brings the characters and storyline to life with their expert delivery and captivating tone. The narrator’s smooth and clear voice draws the listener in, making them feel like they are right there in the thick of the action. Their ability to create tension, particularly during suspenseful moments, keeps the listener engaged and on the edge of their seat.

The narrator’s style perfectly complements the storyline, enhancing the overall experience of the audiobook. They provide distinct voices and personalities for each character, making it easy to distinguish between them and follow the narrative. The narrator’s seamless transitions between dialogue and exposition help to maintain the pacing of the story, never interrupting the flow of the plot.

The audiobook narration of “The Ruins” is a standout feature, making this gripping tale all the more captivating for listeners.

Suspense and Tension

“The Ruins” is a masterclass in suspenseful storytelling that will keep you on the edge of your seat. From the initial discovery of the ruins to the group’s harrowing attempts to escape, the tension is expertly crafted and builds throughout the narrative. The author’s ability to keep readers guessing and deliver unexpected plot twists only adds to the anxious atmosphere.

One of the key elements that create tension is the sense of isolation and danger that the characters experience within the ruins. The ominous setting is described in vivid detail, with the dense jungle and mysterious ruins creating an atmosphere that is both eerie and unsettling. This, combined with the escalating tension between characters, ensures that readers are fully invested in the outcome of the story.

The audiobook narrator’s talent for creating a palpable sense of danger only adds to the suspenseful atmosphere. Their ability to convey the fear and desperation felt by the characters draws the listener deeper into the story, allowing them to experience the tension and apprehension firsthand.

Overall, “The Ruins” is a must-read for anyone seeking a thrilling and suspenseful narrative that will leave them breathless.

Atmosphere and Setting

One of the standout features of “The Ruins” is its immersive atmosphere and vivid setting. Author Scott Smith masterfully paints a picture of a haunting and dangerous location, drawing listeners into the eerie and unsettling world of the story.

The setting itself is a character in the story, shaping the events and affecting the characters in significant ways. The ruins themselves are a stark contrast to the lush and beautiful scenery that surrounds them, representing a sense of decay and danger that lurks just beneath the surface.

The atmosphere is equally impressive, capturing a sense of palpable tension and fear that will keep listeners on the edge of their seats. Smith’s descriptive prose creates a feeling of suffocating dread that permeates throughout the entire audiobook, making it a must-listen for fans of horror and suspense.

Character Development

“The Ruins” features a cast of well-developed characters whose motivations and actions drive the story forward. Jeff, Amy, Stacy, and Eric are four friends on vacation in Mexico who stumble upon an ancient and deadly plant in the jungle. Each character reacts differently to the situation, revealing their unique personality traits and flaws.

Jeff is the leader of the group, practical, and level-headed, but can be controlling at times. Amy is smart, independent, and often takes charge when necessary, but can also be impulsive and reckless. Stacy is reserved, anxious, and follows the group’s decision, while Eric, the comedic relief, is carefree and lacks seriousness.

Throughout the novel, their situation brings out their true colors, forcing them to confront their fears, weaknesses, and inner demons. The characters’ transformation from ordinary individuals to desperate survivors creates a sense of empathy and intrigue, making the reader invested in their survival.

Character Traits and Development

Character Personality Traits Development
Jeff Practical, level-headed, controlling Transforms from the group’s pragmatic leader to a man willing to do anything to survive and protect his friends.
Amy Smart, independent, impulsive Reveals her vulnerability and fears, becoming more cautious and strategic as the situation worsens.
Stacy Reserved, anxious, indecisive Develops confidence and assertiveness, actively participating in the group’s survival plan.
Eric Carefree, lighthearted, lacks seriousness Shows his bravery and resourcefulness in unexpected ways, becoming more mature and responsible.

Plot Twists and Surprises

Plot Twists and Surprises

Scott Smith’s “The Ruins” is not only a suspenseful and atmospheric novel, but it also keeps readers guessing with unexpected plot twists and surprises.

The story takes unexpected turns, leaving readers on the edge of their seats and wondering what will happen next. The author masterfully creates tension by unleashing each revelation in a way that defies expectations.

One of the major plot twists involves the true nature of the vines that surround the characters and cause them so much dread and fear. These vines turn out to be much more dangerous and insidious than anyone could have imagined, setting the stage for a heart-pounding final act.

The surprises keep coming right up until the very end, and readers will be left shocked and thoroughly satisfied by the book’s resolution.

Themes and Symbolism

In “The Ruins,” Scott Smith masterfully integrates themes and symbolism into the plot, creating a multi-layered narrative that resonates with readers long after the final page.

Isolation and Desperation: One of the most notable themes in “The Ruins” is that of isolation and desperation. The main characters find themselves stranded with no way out, cut off from the rest of the world, and must rely on their wits and each other to survive.

The Dangers of Exploration: Another central theme is the inherent danger of exploration. The group’s decision to venture into the unknown leads to a series of events that put them in mortal peril.

The Power of Nature: The setting of “The Ruins” highlights the power of nature, with creeping vines and vines overtaking the surrounding environment and ultimately threatening the lives of the characters. This symbolism speaks to the primal, ancient forces of nature and the struggle between man and the natural world.

The Cost of Survival: Finally, “The Ruins” explores the cost of survival, both physically and mentally. The characters must grapple with difficult moral decisions and confront the harsh realities of their situation, all while fighting to stay alive.

Writing Style and Pacing

Scott Smith’s writing style in “The Ruins” meshes perfectly with the tense narrative, keeping the reader on edge and immersing them in the story. The pacing is designed to make the reader experience the characters’ fears and anxieties and to elicit an emotional reaction. Smith shows his mastery of writing style by balancing action and introspection effectively, bringing out the psychological aspects of the characters and their experiences.

Smith’s writing style captures the essence of the story, ensuring that the narrative doesn’t slow down, keeping readers invested throughout this thrilling and harrowing tale. The writing style is characterized by vivid descriptions and well-crafted sentences, emphasizing the eerie atmosphere, and making the narrative come alive.

The pacing in “The Ruins” is relentless, constantly driving the story forward, and ratcheting up suspense to an unbearable level. The author never lets up, maintaining the suspense from beginning to end, ensuring that the story maintains the reader’s attention.

The writing style and pacing in “The Ruins” complement each other seamlessly, combining to create an immersive and intense listening experience.

Comparison to the Film Adaptation

One of the biggest questions that arise after experiencing “The Ruins” audiobook is how it compares to the film adaptation. While both tell the same story, they take different approaches in certain areas.

Audiobook Film
Storytelling The audiobook relies heavily on descriptive prose and internal monologues to immerse listeners in the story’s world. The film utilizes visual effects and cinematography to convey the horror and suspense of the situation.
Characterization The audiobook spends more time developing the characters and their personalities, providing greater insights into their motivations and emotions. The film streamlines the character development to focus more on the action and suspense, sacrificing some depth but maintaining a fast pace.
Impact The audiobook’s slower pacing and introspective approach create a lingering sense of unease and dread, leaving a lasting impression on listeners. The film’s use of jump scares and intense action sequences elicits immediate emotional reactions, but may not stay with the viewer as long as the audiobook.

Ultimately, whether one prefers the audiobook or the film adaptation of “The Ruins” depends on personal taste and storytelling preferences. However, both mediums offer their own unique strengths and interpretations of the source material.

Critical Reception

Since its release, “The Ruins” audiobook has received both critical acclaim and mixed reviews from readers and reviewers alike. Several critics praised the immersive and suspenseful storytelling, highlighting the vivid atmosphere and complex characters. However, others criticized the book for its slow pacing and lack of action in certain parts.

According to Publishers Weekly, “The Ruins” is a “gripping horror novel” that “will keep readers squirming”. Kirkus Reviews gave the book a mixed review, stating that while the narrative was “taut and suspenseful”, it was also “turgid and compendious in its accumulation of detail”. On Goodreads, the audiobook currently holds an average rating of 3.64 out of 5, with many readers praising the book’s intense atmosphere but criticizing its pacing.

Despite the mixed critical reception, “The Ruins” remains a popular and enduringly engaging audiobook for fans of horror and suspense. Its ability to create a haunting and eerie atmosphere keeps listeners on the edge of their seats, while the complex characters and unexpected plot twists add depth and intrigue to the narrative.

Impact and Enduring Popularity

“The Ruins” by Scott Smith has had a lasting impact on the horror and suspense genres as an audiobook. Since its initial release, it has garnered a significant following and continues to captivate audiences with its unnerving tale of survival and psychological tension.

The book’s immersive narrative and expertly crafted suspense keep readers on the edge of their seats, and the audiobook narration adds an extra dimension to the experience. With its vivid setting, complex characters, and unexpected plot twists, “The Ruins” has become a fan favorite and a must-read for any horror enthusiast.

Its enduring popularity is evident in the numerous positive reviews and ratings it has received on popular book review sites. Readers and listeners alike have praised its gripping storyline, eerie atmosphere, and well-paced plot.

But beyond its cultural impact, “The Ruins” has also influenced and inspired other authors in the genre. Its unique blend of horror and psychological suspense has set the standard for similar works, and its legacy continues to live on.

If you’re looking for a thrilling and immersive audiobook experience, “The Ruins” is not to be missed.

Recommendations and Target Audience


If you’re a fan of suspenseful horror stories with a psychological twist, then “The Ruins” audiobook is perfect for you. This gripping tale is ideal for readers who love being on the edge of their seat and that can endure some gore.

It’s particularly suitable for those who enjoy horror, thriller and survival stories such as “The Descent” by Jeff Long and “The Mall” by S.L. Grey.

Although it’s not recommended for readers that shy away from graphic scenes and unsettling themes, Scott Smith’s audiobook is still an excellent choice for anyone looking for an immersive and thrilling experience.

So if you’re ready to be transported to a world of danger, mystery, and heart-pounding suspense, then “The Ruins” is the audiobook for you.

Similar Audiobooks You Might Enjoy

If you enjoyed “The Ruins,” consider diving into these thrilling and suspenseful audiobooks:

Title Author
The Silent Patient Alex Michaelides
The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins
A Head Full of Ghosts Paul Tremblay
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
I’m Thinking of Ending Things Iain Reid

Behind the Author: Scott Smith

Scott Smith is an American author born in Summit, New Jersey, in 1965. He studied English and Philosophy at Dartmouth College, where he graduated Cum Laude in 1988. Afterward, he worked as a deckhand on tour boats in various US national parks. During this period, Smith wrote his first novel, “A Simple Plan”, which he later adapted into a screenplay for the film directed by Sam Raimi in 1998.

Smith’s second novel, “The Ruins,” was published in 2006 and became a best-seller. The novel was later adapted into a film in 2008. Smith’s writing style and storytelling ability have earned him critical acclaim, positioning him as one of the most talented suspense writers of his generation.

Aside from his two novels and screenplay adaptation, Smith has not published any other books, though he has been rumored to be working on a new novel. In interviews, he has mentioned that he tends to take a slow and careful approach to writing, ensuring that each story reaches its full potential.

Smith’s work in “The Ruins” stands as a testament to his skill in building suspense, crafting characters, and developing themes. Whether you are a fan of horror, survival or psychological thrillers, “The Ruins” audiobook is an excellent choice for those looking for a gripping and immersive listening experience.


Overall, “The Ruins” by Scott Smith is a thrilling and captivating audiobook that expertly blends elements of horror, survival, and psychological tension. The immersive narrative, suspenseful atmosphere, and unexpected plot twists will keep listeners engaged from start to finish. The audiobook narration is skillfully executed, bringing the story to life in a way that will make you feel like you are right there with the characters in the dangerous and haunting setting.

While the story may not be for everyone due to its graphic content and unsettling themes, it is sure to satisfy fans of the horror and suspense genres. Scott Smith’s writing style and pacing keep the story moving at just the right pace, drawing readers in and keeping them hooked until the very end.

Overall, “The Ruins” is a highly recommended audiobook for anyone looking for a thrilling and intense listening experience. It is best suited for mature audiences who enjoy suspenseful narratives with psychological depth and unexpected plot twists. For those who have already enjoyed “The Ruins,” similar audiobooks that may appeal include “The Girl with All the Gifts” by M.R. Carey and “The Troop” by Nick Cutter.

Scott Smith has proven to be a master storyteller with “The Ruins,” and his reputation in the horror and suspense genres is well-deserved. His ability to craft immersive and unsettling narratives that leave a lasting impact is unmatched, and his work continues to captivate audiences to this day.

In conclusion, “The Ruins” is a must-listen for fans of the horror and suspense genres, and it is sure to remain a classic in the world of audiobooks for years to come.

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