Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

Title: The Promise of Amazing
Author: Robin Constantine
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Source: HarperCollins & Edelweiss

Goodreads rating: 3.38 out of 5.00 (110+ ratings pre-release) Expected publication: 31st Dec 2013
Goodreads | The Reading Room

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.

Review by Chantelle

I was quite disappointed by The Promise of Amazing, but to be fair that could be because I started it with the wrong mind set. What attracted me to this novel  was the cover. It basically promises all things fluffy. You see: the sunshine, the adorable leaning, the staring, the nose-nuzzling forehead-touching cuteness, the pink title! I know you're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but come on the blurb even says, "the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love" which puts it right into the ballpark of 'cute' teen novels. All of it lulled me into thinking that this novel was promising to be an amazingly fluffy young adult contemporary... which it wasn't really. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a badly written novel - it just wasn't fluffy, and I sort of went into this wanting fluffy.

That being said, I really enjoyed how this book started. Wren Caswell as a girl in her junior year who has been labelled by her teachers as 'average' and 'quiet', as someone who would never be able achieve much. So her narrative starts with a mentality of wanting to transcend those labels, with a determination to fulfil her promise of amazing, which to me meant the promise that you could be more - and that's a really nice message.

We also get the POV of Grayson Barrett, a boy who runs in the wrong crowd and always seems to have a ready excuse to justify all the crap that he pulls. However, getting expelled from his private school for selling term papers finally seems to be a wake up call to get his act together, but escaping his past is harder than it seems when the people from his past don't (and won't) disappear.

The general impression I get from people I've talked to is that they have an issue with the insta-love between Wren and Grayson but I didn't really find this. Wren and Grayson meet at a wedding reception, when Wren saves Grayson's life by performing the heimlich manoeuvre. To me, it was more of an 'insta-fascination' which I completely understood.
1) To him, this girl just spooned him from the back with her arms wrapped tight around him and saved his life. From his POV, he throws off this hopeless romantic vibe so understandably, he was hooked.
2) To her, she just saved his life AND he's hot AND he's the type of person people are telling her that she can't be.

"there was something about the way he oozed confidence while acting so asinine that fascinated me... I bet no one ever accused him of being too quiet"

I didn't enjoy the romance as much as I'd hoped, but I did ship it and have a few laughs. Wren is nicknamed Weenie girl, and Grayson is called puke boy (for reasons you'll find out)- Weenie girl and puke boy sitting in a tree? K-I-S-S-I-N-G! Grayson is also "the boy who choked" and any Harry Potter reference is a good reference in my book.

One of the main themes of this novel is about needing to face the reality of leaving school, about needing to plan and decide what you'd like to do for the rest of your life, which is no doubt a terrifying and slightly surreal choice to most. It's about that transition from 'receiving' and being dependent on society, to giving back and the subsequent weight of responsibility. No matter what your occupation, there's suddenly "the reality of having someone's life in [your] hands". This is apparent through Wren who struggles with choosing what she wants to do after school, whether to continue her family's business, or whether to try and reach for more.

Things started to go downhill for me at the 60% mark. There was this event that just screamed ANGSTY FEELS, and the author should've milked it for all it was worth since there weren't many 'feels' previously, however, the scene was practically skimmed over, and the feels lasted about 5 seconds. And then things just started rubbing me the wrong way.

Click me to read spoilers

For starters, Grayson gets caught trying to pull another girl for his schemes and he has the nerve to say to Wren, "You have to know there's nothing I would do to screw [our relationship] up. Nothing."

And then at 66% when he gives Wren a stolen necklace... NEVER GOING TO END WELL, MATE!

AGH, there wasn't enough focus on happy events, just these really really frustrating ones.

And then WREN! Geez that girl has double standards. Grayson touches another girl's hair and Wren gets immensely offended, but she KISSES ANOTHER GUY ... TWICE! and she's playing it off as no big deal. She actually gets away with a lot for being 'the quiet girl'. By the end, it's annoying how Wren still can't admit that she's wrong, she constantly deflects the blame, showing little personal development such that when she finally says "I love him", it comes across as a joke, from a naive, and sort of dislikeable girl. 

Overall, this book was okay. It's a young adult book that tries to touch on deeper issues but for me, lacked dynamic. Not enough highs to make the lows more pronounced, not enough lows to make the highs feel triumphant. It was okay...

Oh the irony
Overall: 5/10
Plot: 2.5/5
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 2.5/5
Cover: 4/5


  1. Aw. That's just disappointing!
    I've seen a couple of great reviews but the general verdict seems to be a lot of meh-ness which is completely sucky because with that cover and that blurb it DID sound promising. :/

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chantelle!

    1. Thanks Nuzaifa :) I think meh-ness is a great way to describing this one after the hype!

  2. oh wow.. I did NOT know this book was angsty.. I actually dropped it after 30% because I couldn't stand the insta-love… glad you at least didn't find that bothersome.

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    1. haha I think part of my problem with this one was that it WASN'T angsty when the situation (I felt) should've led to at least some angst. I have to agree with you though that insta-love is a big factor towards DNF-ing a book.

  3. I've read two reviews of this book now and I'm not very interested in it anymore. I would never be expecting angst from a cover like this (and really, books should have covers that are representative of their insides!) and I don't know if the romance interests me. I do like the theme of planning for the future. Too bad the final 40% wasn't very good.

    Thanks for the review!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    1. Thanks P.E.! If you were interested in it, I'd still recommend giving it a go, there wasn't much angst (which was my problem since I felt that there should've been given the situation) so it still might be a book worth the read for you.

  4. I am in the same boat as P.E. above-the more reviews I see of this one coming out makes me second guess even picking it up. The angst would really bring me down too, I really dislike all the cheese in YA contemporary when it comes to romance.

    1. haha cheese is definitely a killer in YA contemporary! I'd still recommend giving it a read, if not for enjoyment then for the sake of discussion ;)

  5. I have been hearing about a few books with misleading covers recently. I need to be able to judge my books by their covers!

    1. I know right!!! I mean, if you're in a library, there is absolutely nothing to go on from a book except for it's cover and blurb.

  6. Well, at least you gave it a 3 star rating. I gave it 2. I agree that the beginning was really strong especially that Wren immediately stood out to me. But things were going meh when Wren was suddenly getting aroused by Luke's overtures. And I actually hated her when she became a scheming flirt luring Gray into an abandoned room using a can opener or something.

    Gahh! I just couldn't believe it. At some point, I did enjoy this one but the flaws greatly outweighed the positives.

    Great review!

    1. Thanks Charlotte! I'm an infamously generous with ratings so a 2 is probably more accurate :) I was definitely feeling some hate towards Wren the more the story progressed, glad you were the same! It was so frustrating especially like you said, Wren stood out at the beginning.

  7. THIS BOOK ISN'T FLUFFY? But, the cover looks like Lydia and a guy and Lydia is so fluffy! (I don't know if I'm making any sense right now. :P)
    I'm glad the romance didn't bother you that much and you weren't bothered by the insta-love. I was a bit worried about this one because people were saying that it has insta-love and insta-love and I do NOT get along.
    I'm also SO tempted to click and see the spoilers. :P

    1. YOU MEAN LYDIA FROM LIZZIE BENNETT DIARIES RIGHT?! IF SO, I COMPLETELY AGREE! Lydia is totes adorbs and definitely fluffy! :P
      The romance was slightly insta-love, so if you're completely insta-love repellent, it may not be the healthiest choice to read next, but I'd still recommend it just so that we can discuss spoilers ;)