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Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Smith's smash-hit debut, A Simple Plan (1993), a psychological thriller about greed, was made into a popular film. Now, after a long absence, Smith turns in a suspense novel tainted with remedial horror. Imagine an episode of Friends on psilocybin mushrooms. Two twentysomething American couples are vacationing in Cancun, where they befriend Mathias, an English-speaking German, and Pablo, an easygoing Greek. Amy is the worrier. Stacy, her best friend, is an impulsive airhead. Jeff is the ambitious can-do guy. Eric is laid-back and passive. All they intend to do is party, but when Mathias goes to look for his brother at an archaeological site near some Mayan ruins, the others go along. Naive and hubristic, the vacationers are soon entrapped by people they can't understand and besieged by a creepy, inexplicable power. Smith has crafted a harrowing page-turner all right, but it is so grim, the horror so simplistic and relentless, and the cultural implications so dubious that drama and scariness give way to dismay and disgust. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2006 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
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At long last, Smith follows up his bestselling first novel, A Simple Plan (1993), the film of which received an Oscar nomination for best screenplay, with a stunning horror thriller. Four American friends on vacation in Cancun, Mexico Jeff, Amy, Eric and Stacy meet a German tourist, Mathias, who persuades them to join his hunt for his younger brother, Henrich, last seen headed off with a new girlfriend toward some ruins. The four soon regret their impulsive decision after they find themselves lost in the jungle and freaked out by signs that they're headed for danger. Smith builds suspense through the slow accretion of telling details, until a deadly menace starts taking its toll, leaving the survivors increasingly at each other's throats. While admirers of such classic genre writers as John Wyndham or Algernon Blackwood may find the horror less suggestive than they might wish, the eerie atmosphere and compelling plot should appeal to fans of ABC's hit TV series Lost, who will help propel this page-turner up bestseller lists. Ben Stiller's production company has bought film rights. 100,000 first printing. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

A group of young twentysomething tourists vacationing in Cancun impetuously agrees to make an expedition into the wilds when one of their group fails to return from his day trip to the Mayan ruins. Following a hand-drawn map that evokes strong negative reactions from assorted locals (the language barrier doesn't help), the tourists quickly find themselves ill-prepared for the task. No longer does the trip resemble a television-style reality show; now it's more like a haunted jungle. Their plight becomes increasingly dire as they are herded off to a mountaintop and held hostage by armed Mayan-like people they realize are the same villagers who killed their lost cohort. The horror factor ratchets up as unexplainable, creepy elements compete with the basic fight for survival. And did we mention the problem of the local vegetation? Once again, Smith (A Simple Plan) deftly explores psychological tension and insidious fears. Fans of Alex Garland's The Beach and Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park won't put be able to put this one down. A perfect beach read; just don't stray too far from the lifeguard. For all popular fiction collections. Teresa L. Jacobsen, Solano Cty. Lib., Fairfield, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Adult/High School-Two American couples just out of college head to Mexico for a sun- and tequila-filled vacation. They befriend some like-minded Greek tourists and a German man whose brother has followed an archaeologist to the site of her dig. The Americans and one of the Greeks decide to go into the jungle to help Matthias find his brother. Blissfully ignorant, they head off with minimal rations, but lots of tequila. Despite all warning signs, they continue to a desolate Mayan village whose residents seem intent on keeping them away. Once American Amy steps off the path into a patch of vines, things suddenly change. As in A Simple Plan (Knopf, 1993), Smith creates a gripping story in which each character's uncertainties and human frailties are as horrific as the actual horror around them. Though the story is told in the third person, each American spends time as a protagonist, giving readers an understanding of his or her fears and motivations. This also allows readers to second-guess the characters. The book has no chapter breaks, which echoes the long and dreadful adventure. Even though only a few days pass, it feels much longer, as the plot moves minute-by-minute through each day. The ending is highly satisfactory and perfectly tragic. Though there are some brief scenes of gore, most of the suspense is psychological, but no less frightening. Fans of everything from Jurassic Park to Lost to Stephen King will love this book.-Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.