Customer Reviews: Ready or Not: An All-American Girl Novel
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on September 5, 2006
While I must agree with some of the other people here who said that the main plotline of whether Sam and David were going to have sex or not was boring, there was more to the book than just that. In particular, I had a soft spot for Harold and Lucy's budding relationship, as well as the plotline of Sam's job at the video store. Also interesting to me was the 'slut' plotline, since I have personally witnessed such hypocritical behaviour at my own high school. While the end scene of everybody calling themselves sluts was a bit unbelieveable I must admit that I did give an inner scream of joy when Harold went up to join the girls.

What I did have a problem with, however, was the fact that Samantha seemed to think that if her boyfriend wanted to have sex at Camp David, then they were going to have sex at Camp David and she didn't really have a say in it. This wasn't the eventual conclusion of her thought processes, but throughout much of the novel she did seem to have resigned herself to this fact. This seemed very weak on her part.
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on June 6, 2006
The thing that bothered me most of all about this book was the character inconsistiency at the end. I did not read the first book so I can't say how Sam changed from one book to the next but the whole problem Sam had through this whole book was the fact that she wasn't ready for sex and she THOUGHT her boyfriend was. Despite the fact that she asked about birth control, she still consistiently indicated that she wasn't ready. She even avoided David because she was so distressed about going away for the weekend with him. She didn't even want to go!!! To make this a really good book, Sam would have asked David what he meant about 'playing Parchisi'. She would have told him what she was feeling. They would have discussed the whole issue. THAT would have been Sam making a MATURE decision. Poor David didn't even have a clue what was going on in her mind and appeared to be shocked by the idea when she finally springs it on him. Because of this, the ending was very disappointing. It was almost like "Oh well, we're alone, I have contraceptives, we might as well do it even if I wasn't ready and you don't look like you're very ready either."

There is one other thing I didn't like about the book: the white trash reference...very biggoted
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on July 31, 2005
I was really impressed by this latest offering from Meg Cabot, especially the ending. Cabot is one of the best teen writers today, consistently offering a blend of escapist fantasy with real-life issues in a readable yet never patronizing fashion.

In this book, a sequel to "All American Girl," Samantha Madison deals with growing up in a rarefied yet realistic high school environment. A seventeen year old student, she juggles art lessons (is she ready for more adult classes?) with having a job (trying to impress the coworkers and deal responsibly with the boss) and a boyfriend who happens to be the son of the president of the US (is she ready to Do It with him? or not). As in the latest Princess Diaries books, Cabot combines statistics (on teen pregnancy, for one) with Gwen Stefani fandom. Her writing should appeal to teens based on the pop culture references (never dismissive) and on the activism front (a lot of studies show that teenagers are _deeply_ interested in What's Wrong With the World). The book ends on a note that is true to many teenagers in the US, and does so without ever being preachy or trite.

Although many readers may choose to critique the book as insufficiently critical of teen sex, or even premarital sex, Cabot does an excellent job of showing that a teen's decision to have sex is and should be based on their own personality and situation, and should not be undertaken lightly.

Again, I thought this book was an excellent portrayal of teen life and would highly recommend it to anyone in high school or older.
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on March 23, 2007
I am so glad I borrowed this book from the library instead of shelling out my precious dollars for it. What was wrong? Glad you asked.

Reasons Cabot was NOT ready (and should have spent a LOT more time writing):

10) Sam thinks her life stinks again. Really. I thought we had fixed that in the last book.

9) No character development. We get nifty new characters, or they could be nifty. We don't know. She didn't tell us!

8) 250 pages of: Should I have sex or not? Gets really boring really fast.

7) View of sex is one-sided. Sex changes nothing. As long as you use birth control it's okay. All for readers who haven't hit the legal age of consent (remember, it's aimed at 14/15 year olds, too).

6) The faucet discussion. (Those of you who've read it know what I'm talking about; those of you who haven't: be grateful!)

5) A cafeteria full of teens screaming "I'm a slut!" Not real. Wouldn't happen. In any high school. Ever.

4) A girl who wasn't ready for sex decides she's ready. On a whim. Spur of the moment. Without any explanation why. Yep.

3) Completely slams our current administration. Again- yep. Are high schoolers even that political?

2) Sam stresses over what people think about her. For pages. Not even the same girl from the last book.

And the number one reason why Meg Cabot isn't ready:

1) Three words: Sex and Naked Men. That's the heart of this novel.

Do yourself a favor and don't ruin your love for Sam. Stick to the first book. If you must read about sexuality among teens, check out the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It's handled MUCH better there and it's not the WHOLE PLOT!
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on August 2, 2005
Samantha "Sam" Madison, the girl who is known across the country for saving the President's life from assassination, is now 16-years-old, a Junior in high school, and ready to stop being the goody-two-shoes girl next-door. Hence, she does something drastic: she dies her hair black. But that's not all. Sam is also working at Potomac Video, where she hangs out with protest radicals all day - okay, so just one protest radical, but still, it's someone. She's now taking a life drawing class with her boyfriend - who also happens to be the President's son - David, and she's discussing the possibility of having sex with her boyfriend. However, from day one, things don't go as planned. Who knew that life drawing meant that a naked guy would stand in front of you as you draw a picture of him? And why did Sam have to open her big mouth and admit that she had said yes to sex on national television, when she hadn't actually said yes - at least not yet? Obviously, Sam's life is about to get a bit crazier.

I adored the book ALL-AMERICAN GIRL, and was first on line to purchase it when it was released a few years ago. Hence, you can imagine the joy I felt when I heard that READY OR NOT was being released. The growing up that Sam - and even her older sister, Lucy - have succumbed to is amazing. They are like two totally different people, and it's nice to see that they are finally getting along. The subject matter - as many people have commented on already - is probably more suitable for teenagers, just as PRINCESS IN TRAINING was, as both books deal with sex. A lot. Overall, this was a fabulous new look into the life of Sam Madison, that will be eaten up by readers of all ages. Great fun for all!

Erika Sorocco
Book Review Columnist for The Community Bugle Newspaper
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on July 6, 2007
Is this book controversial? You bet! Is it funny? No doubt about it. Is it appropriate reading material for all ages? Depends on what you deem appropriate.

I've read with interest other reviews for READY OR NOT, Meg Cabot's sequel to All-American Girl. I even agree with a lot of them. But before I start my review, let me remind you of one salient point--this book is a work of FICTION. It was written by a HUMAN who has her OWN views of life.

Just as everyone isn't going to agree on whether or not abortion is right, or the war in Iraq is necessary, or whether religion should be allowed in public schools, no two people are going to agree on whether or not Sam should have sex with her boyfriend at the age of almost seventeen.

That said, I loved the book. I'm a thirty-year-old happily married mother of two, and I still enjoyed Ms. Cabot's individual brand of humor, the trials of being a teenager, and the ability of one person to make a difference in the world.

The Samantha Madison of All-American Girl has grown up. She's older, she's dyed her hair because she "needed a change," and she's wondering what to do now that her boyfriend, David, who just happens to be the son of the US President, has invited her to Camp David over Thanksgiving weekend to play "parcheesi."

Sam is all ready reeling--from the realization that she either looks like a cute Ashlee Simpson (her older sister Lucy's comment on the dye job, which is not good) or a dead Joan of Arc (her younger sister Rebecca's comment on the hair, which could be good depending on how you look at it); the fact that "life studies" in art class obviously means "naked people" (really not good that the first naked man you see is a complete stranger); and the knowledge that the President seems to think providing the teens of America birth-control should not be done without their parents approval.

I truly enjoyed READY OR NOT. The message is a powerful one--the sexuality of a person should be based on their maturity, not their age, and that birth-control is a personal decision of the person engaging in sexual activities. That said, however, never once does the book become preachy about teen sexuality. I can understand where some parents might not like having their teenage daughters reading about a sixteen-year old who decides to have sex with her boyfriend, but I personally would rather have my daughter read a book about a girl who knows what a big decision it is, comes to peace with it in her mind, and seeks out ways to avoid the dangers that are associated with sex no matter what your age--pregnancy and disease--then have her feel ashamed to research her decision.

I think the subject matter was wonderfully handled, and by no means is the entire book about Sam trying to decide whether or not to have sex with David. A lot of reviewers will attempt to make it be so, just because the subject matter is a touchy one. But it's also about Sam wanting to be her own person, not just "the girl who saved the President." It's about learning to love yourself as you are, and understanding the intricacies of your family, and taking important steps in your life to make the world a better place.

Samantha Madison grew up in this book, and that's how it should be. Any parent who thinks their teenager isn't thinking about sex is sadly mistaken--it's just a fact of life. And Meg Cabot presents a wonderful story about the highs and lows of falling in love, of making life-altering decisions, and being the best person you can be.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius"
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on November 30, 2005
So many people think that without tragic consequences a book has no value..... but I laughed out loud many times throughout the book. It was a very enjoyable read.

Too many books (and people!) are scared to address the reality that teens think about sex a lot. (Remember when certain organizations banned Judy Blume books?) I found this book to be refreshingly realistic with an appropriate level of detail. I loved the many discussions incorporated into the story - for example: parental surprise that not only underprivileged kids engage in premarital sex; why using multiple methods of birth control is a good idea; that "good" sex takes practice; that you need to wait for the right partner; that people you think are having sex may not be, and vice-versa; and that you absolutely need to be able to have meaningful discussions with your partner. I felt that Sam's reactions afterwards were very easy to relate to, and worked with the story.

I would not consider this book appropriate for pre-teens, but it isn't intended for them anyway. High-schoolers will find it both a pleasantly light and informative read.
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on June 11, 2006
Usually, I'm a huge fan of Meg Cabot. As far as teen novels go, I think she's a great author. Her books are witty, charming, and a good read. Unfortunately, as she gained popularity, her books got cheaper and cheaper. Now, she's churning out books by the day, it seems, and because of speeding through the writing process, her books no longer have the same spark they used to. This book, sadly, is no exception. It was obnoxious and...weird, honestly, from the start. I was impressed that Cabot didn't choose to shy away from today's issues, the obsessive zeal with which she demonstrated her own beliefs got irritating very, very fast.

Basically, if you're looking for a book by Cabot that's actually good, you're better off sticking to her earlier Princess Diaries books (eventually, those started sucking, too), The Boy Next Door, the 1-800-Where-R-U series, and my personal favorites, The Mediator novels. The last two were terrible, but the first four were great. This novel, however, was very, very unimpressive, although I will give her credit for the first American Girl novel. At least that one wasn't mindless.
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on February 14, 2006
I've never been into "girly girl" novels, especially Meg Cabot, so when my friend was adamant that I read All-American Girl, I wasn't thrilled. But I dropped by Borders & picked it up anyway, keeping the receipt and price sticker because I knew I'd be returning it soon. But I was pleasantly surprised. I finished it that night. It was just so hilarious and captivating, and held me in like a trance- I loved it.

So when Meg released Ready or Not, needless to say I was an Elvis fan girl. I rushed to get a copy and then the next day anticipated returning it. Why? Because this lacked. It simply was a disappointment.

The plot was so off and disoriented, sometimes I wondered if it were a novel or a diary. Half the book was spent with Samantha wallowing in the "depressed punk" mud, ranting about how she was a dark, misunderstood loner with apathy for "normal stuff kids do".

Then the rest of it was pointless, long-winded rambling and gab about Gwen Stefani or whoever. The pop culture references got out of hand at times, like they were fill-ins for lack of better things to say. A bunch of ponderings and superficial remarks about the people at her school and her life, Sam came on as ungrateful and irritating, her always-grousing manner getting on my nerves.

Meg's writing lost all the spirit and humor of All-American Girl, and it became dull and painfully tedious. Likely, she was just trying to cash in on a successful sequel, and was so busy trying to embellish on Sam's attitude that her character became way too fictional and unrealistic.

I think Cabot lost all her drive and creativity, and just let this one go. Really, I was disappointed. A poor plotline and stiff writing led to perhaps the worst book by MC yet. I love her works- I really do, but this one just didn't cut it for me.
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on December 8, 2005
If you liked All-American Girl,then you'll like this book. It's a great sequel and Cabot deals with issues that teenage girls face today.

It's true that the main character, Sam, spends a good time thinking about her relationship with David. This of course, includes whether or not she's ready to have sex. This is something that all teen girls, and for that matter- all teen boys, think about. I think it admirable that Meg Cabot chose to include such a topic. If the author had not touched upon this, it would be an unrealistic look at a teenager's life.

This book has been recommended for grades 9 and up. I'd agree with that. By that age, most young adults are mature enough to read about the topic of sex. And while many things influence the decision of whether or not to have sex (friends, movies, alcohol), there is no reason to skip this book for fear of it deciding for them.

Book 1 All-American Girl
Book 2 Ready or Not
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