“Ready to Run” (Book Review)

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The Ready To Run (Book) Review:

By Kelly Starrett

A few months ago I was reading through some old books at my local library when I came across a paperback edition of a novel called Ready to Run. At the time it seemed like just another collection of short stories, but after reading the book cover, it became clear that this was something much bigger than fiction.

I found myself gripped by the story of a man named John Taylor. A former Marine who served two tours in Vietnam, he now lives alone with his teenage daughter in rural New Hampshire. One day while out walking one evening, he encounters a young woman who looks very much like his dead wife. She tells him she’s been abducted by aliens from planet Earth and taken back to their home world where they are holding her prisoner.

John tries to reason with them, but they don’t seem to care what he thinks. They tell him that if he’ll give up his daughter, then they will let her go. When John refuses, the aliens turn violent and begin killing everyone else around them. Eventually John finds himself helplessly watching his family being killed before his eyes.

That night, John awakes to a dark and silent world. Every person he has ever known is now gone from the Earth, his daughter has been taken from him, and all he has left are memories of happier times. Determined to bring her back, he embarks on an intergalactic journey to bring her home.

Does this sound familiar?

If you’ve been to the movies or the local bookstore in the last five years then the answer is yes. In 2008 Dreamworks released a big-budget movie based on John’s story. While it may be a work of fiction, John’s story is the stuff that legends are made of and today we’re going to learn what lessons we can learn from his life.

Lesson 1: You can’t rely on anyone else to get the job done.

Throughout the story, John tries again and again to enlist the help of friends, neighbors, the police and even the FBI. Each time he’s turned away. People think he’s crazy, the police tell him they have more important things to deal with, and the FBI just assumes he’s involved in a domestic terrorist cell.

In his frustration, he kidnaps a local reporter and tells her the whole story. Not surprisingly, she doesn’t believe him either. To everyone else, he’s just a crazy old man with a gun and a story that sounds like it came straight out of an episode of the X-Files.

Lesson 2: You can’t save everyone.

While John is trying to enlist the help of others, the most he can hope for is for them to listen to his story. Even if they did believe him, there’s nothing stopping them from doing anything about it. The best he can hope for is that they will help him indirectly by sounding the alarm and putting themselves in harms way.

John knows this, but he can’t help but try anyway. As strong as the desire is to save his daughter, he also doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt in the process.

Lesson 3: You have to be willing to fail.

As you go through life there will be times when your actions don’t result in the outcome that you desire. Whether it’s because people don’t help, or because some things are just out of your control, you’re going to fail more than you succeed. If you can’t accept that fact then you are never going to achieve your ultimate goals in life.

If John had allowed himself to fail from the beginning, he’d still have a wife and daughter. Instead he tries to succeed and it ends in disaster.

The greatest achievers in life recognize that failure is just another step towards eventual success so they accept it as a possibility and move on.

John’s Daughter never did come home.

Whether or not she’s still alive somewhere in the galaxy is irrelevant, because in John’s eyes she’ll always be his little girl and nothing will ever change that.

In the final scene of the movie, an older John is seen visiting his wife’s grave. He tells her about all the things that had happened in the years after the invasion and remarks that maybe she was watching over them the whole time. When he leaves, a single white flower appears next to her grave.

Some might see this as a sign, others as coincidence. What it really means is left up to interpretation, which is exactly what the writer wants.

You’ll have to make up your own mind when it comes to this one because there is no right or wrong answer.

If you’ve paid attention up until now, you’ll know what the “proper” answer is, but I’m not going to tell you. As John’s daughter once said, “The answer’s wrong!

What was the question?”

Thanks for reading!

Sources & references used in this article:

Book Review: ACA System for Adaptive Conjoint Analysis by F Carmone – 1987 – journals.sagepub.com

3-D image processing algorithms by N Nikolaidis, I Pitas – 2000 – dl.acm.org

Android application development: Programming with the Google SDK by R Rogers, J Lombardo, Z Mednieks, B Meike – 2009 – dl.acm.org