Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

November 2, 2013

Title: The Promise of Amazing
Author: Robin Constantine
Publication date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Amazon | Goodreads
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.
The Promise of Amazing was one of my most anticipated reads this year. I mean, seriously, would you look at that adorable cover? And did you read the blurb? So it should come as no surprise that when I got approved for this book, I spent a few quiet minutes in complete freak out mode.

And then I read the book.

This is what I expected from The Promise of Amazing:
A story about about change, or maybe about discovering that change is not always necessary, and you're fine the way you are. To be specific, I was expecting it to be a bit like a coming of age novel.

This is what I got from The Promise of Amazing:
Wren and Grayson meet in classic fairytale fashion, the 'here-I-am-your-knight-in-shining-armour' setting, except, it's reversed. Wren saves Grayson when he chokes at a wedding (I dont know if that scene was meant to be humorous, but it so was!), and then, well, as is common in the realm of fiction, that's where it all starts.

I started off really liking both Wren and Grayson. The alternating points of view is done really well, with each of the characters having their own 'voices', which is really important in alternating POVs. Wren comes across as a someone who's been mistaken as unimaginative, uncompetitive and unlikely to succeed, just because she's quiet. When their guidance counselor tells them there's no way any of them are going to Harvard, it's the last straw. Which I totally, totally get. Often being the quiet one in a crowd myself, I know how frustrating that can be.
The NHS evaluation made it [being quiet] sound like a character flaw. Something I could improve. That's just not how it worked.
It's not! Seriously, imagine what chaos there'd be in the world if everyone was outspoken and loud all the time? Just because I'm an introvert or reserved, doesn't mean I cant study, or that I cant 'become' or 'do' something, or that I'm boring. Ever heard of Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Cant Stop Talking? Yeah, that book's for you, Ms. Guidance Counselor. (Okay, rant over. It's a sore point, guys)

Grayson, one the other hand, has been one big bad boy, and wants to change, for the better. He's been thrown out of his old school for helping people write their term papers, he's broken into houses and stolen stuff, just for the fun of it, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Not very likable, hmm? But you've got to give the guy points for trying to remove himself from his friends circle, which, admittedly, plays a large part in his waywardly actions. Constantine doesn't hold back with Grayson's faults, instead making him all the more real for them.

Which brings me to my problem with The Promise of Amazing. In making the characters seem real, maybe the author went a little too far. Both Wren and Grayson are so indecisive. Logically, Wren knows that what her counselor told her is not true, but she still admits to trying to change herself. Getting out of your comfort zone is all very good, but I just didn't understand why a sensible, intelligent, funny young girl like Wren would come to such a decision.

And though I loved how real Grayson was, I wish his change for the better was more conclusive. Weak willed, and easily swayed by his so-called 'friends', he keeps swinging between the 'good' side and the 'bad', which kind of got to my nerves. I get that he wants to change, so what's the hold up? Just do it!

See, I get that all of what I've mentioned above is natural and something that everyone goes through, but I wish both Wren and Grayson worked through their dilemmas and came through them as people who atleast knew what they wanted and were on the road to getting it by the end of the story. That's where The Promise of Amazing fell short for me. I felt like the ending fell a bit flat and was inconclusive (I have mentioned before, I like my ends tied off neatly).

On the subject of the romance that blossoms between Gray and Wren... that's just it. It's still in the blossoming stages (or should be), in my opinion, what with so many external factors disrupting things between them (they only go on one real date through the entire book) time and again. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it did seem a bit insta-lovey to me. I was looking for a bit more of an emotional build up between both of them, where they get to really know each other first, and then fall in love.

But, I have to say, it's quite possible I was let down by The Promise of Amazing only because my expectations were unreasonably high (in my defense, please see title. And cover. I rest my case.). If you dont mind your characters a little less intense, and a plot that doesn't go too deep, then this book might be for you! Let me know if you like it!

Bottomline: (Okay, people are definitely going to make use of the word play in the title, and it's most probably going to get old after awhile, but I cant resist.) The Promise of Amazing doesn't really deliver on it's promise of amazingness. It is pretty good, though, if you're looking for a fun read, with humour and a big dose of insta-love.

Refracted Light Reviews: ...Overall, while this story is cute and entertaining and moderately interesting, it falls quite a bit short of amazing.

Maji Bookshelf: ...The flow was great, and the story was cute and humorous... Totally recommended to teens who love a good romance novel...

Innocence Walker: ...Why can’t YA novels that say their heroines are average actually MEAN that instead of trying to play it up like it’s a flaw...