I was penning a blurb for Amazon the other day and it answers questions (most start out "why did you-") I field with many readers, so let me go ahead and post it here.
Behind the Ruins combines several things I believe very deeply about speculative fiction: SF doesn't need to use genre conventions, characters are the real reason people read books and readers are smart.
I went into the project with the plot fairly well worked out, and with a conscious decision to write it using Hemingway's rules of writing*. Be direct. Be simple. Tell the truth. I wanted to visit the well-trodden wastes of post-apocalyptic fiction and ask some real questions: What would it really be like? What would it do to people?
Thematically, the book examines the costs and seductions of violence, but the guts of the novel are found in Grey's quest to save whatever remains human in his tattered soul.
That's the real answer.
* Hemingway's core rules
1. Use short, simple sentences.
2. Use short, crisp first paragraphs.
3. Use vigorous, clear English, avoid mushy prose.
4. Use positive words rather than negative ones.
5. Tell the truth.
(Sounds simple, but it's not.)