Friday, November 29, 2013

Title: The Promise of Amazing
Author: Robin Constantine
Series: n/a
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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.

With such an adorable cover and a too-cute premise like that, I had really high hopes that this book would be equally as delightful.  But perhaps my expectations were a bit too high because although this book was ridiculously cute in theory, it never truly resonated with me.  Don't get me has its moments, but it also had many more moments that left me wanting to pull my hair out.

You know when you're watching a movie or reading a story and you already know where it's going and you're just cringing and cringing, hoping that what you think is about to happen never comes to fruition because, gawd, is it going to be awkward?  I think that sums up this book in a nutshell.  I was so unbelievably excited to read this book when I first discovered its existence because it just sounded so freaking adorable.  Alas, it was not meant to be.  I didn't have the same inability to finish the novel that some of my friends did, but it was definitely a chore at times to continue reading.

First of all, the characters are one of the most important aspects of a story for me.  And I just could not connect with Wren or Grayson on any level.  I really wanted to because the story of an ordinary girl changing a bad boy for the better is one I usually tend to enjoy.  But usually in those stories, the bad boy is at least somewhat repentant of his past misdeeds.

Grayson only seems to feel bad because he got caught.  And the term paper thing isn't the worst of his wrong-doings. As an outsider looking in, I could see the appeal of Grayson's character:  he's charming, attractive, and he wears that jacket with the elbow patches.  (Or am I the only one who thinks those are hot?)  But as I got to know him, both through Wren and from his own point-of-view, I found him to be a total asshat.  None of his actions really implied that he was attempting to atone for his past mistakes, and even at the end of the story, it didn't appear that he ever would.

Wren, on the other hand, was just so unbelievably naïve.  Which was actually rather odd to me, considering that her character is the epitome of ordinary and she's not wholly inexperienced.  She's not your typical virginal protagonist and she's not the most popular girl in school.  Wren is completely average, which should endear her to readers because who among us hasn't felt that way, but because her siblings are anything but average themselves, she whines about not being special for a good chunk of the book.  I think that's part of the reason she ignores things about Grayson's character that should throw up red flags or lets things go with minimal argument:  she feels undeserving of his attention.  I really hated that about her character; I would have rather seen her react with elation that a hot guy was attracted to her than witness her perpetual feelings of inadequacy.

The story started out strong enough, and I think that if it had only been told from Wren's perspective, whiny as it was, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more.  That's partly because I would have mostly been out of the loop for "Operation Amsterdam" which had fail written all over it.  Also, I don't think the insta-love factor would have felt so all-encompassing if not for Grayson's perspective on it.  He's a player, he chokes on a cocktail weenie, Wren saves him, and he's besotted for the rest of the story.  Like, turn-on-his-friends-obsessed with Wren.  At least Wren had the good sense to question things, even if that didn't last long.

I don't know...the story was cute but it felt wrong in so many ways.  I don't necessarily think that young adult novels need to be some moral guidepost or show what real love looks like because that's all open to interpretation.  But even if the characters make bad decisions on their path to each other, I still feel as if I should like them, even if I can't relate to them. I didn't hate the book.  I was just hoping that it would fulfill it's "promise of amazing", and for me, it didn't.  It was just run-of-the-mill cute, unfortunately.  The Promise of Amazing was a quick, mildly entertaining read, and I'm sure many others will find it more enjoyable than I did.

About the author:

Robin Constantine is a born and bred Jersey girl who moved down South so she could wear flip-flops year round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, well, eventually but not without a lot of peril, angst and the occasional kissing scene.

Her YA debut, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, will be released in 2014 by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Find Robin:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog | Tumblr


  1. I've seen another blogger that really didn't like this book too, so I think for sure that it won't be on my reading list. I have issues where if I don't like the characters I dislike the book a lot. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I have a copy of this and reviews are seriously mixed. I think I'll wait for a day when I wake up feeling like Cinderella and want birds to braid my hair and twirl around singing before I open this...might get along better lol ;) Great review!

  3. I had high hopes for this book as well. I mean, look at that cover! Sigh. Another one bites the dust. I don't know. I think I've had enough of Mary Sue characters to last me a lifetime. I'm passing on this one.

    Great review, Jen.

  4. I could see why you found it appealing with that cover and the blurb, but like you I do want my characters to grow. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. How disappointing! I was really looking forward to this one as well because it sounds and looks so CUTE, but no. Just no. I wouldn't be able to stomach the characters because how could I root for an non-repenting jerk and a whiny, unrealistic girl? No. All so wrong. Sorry it was a downer for you, Jen! I'll be staying away from it now :)

  6. Looks like i'll give that book a miss. And, yes I agree with you about the elbow patches ;)

  7. I'm so sad that this book is getting middling reviews because I really enjoyed it. I like your spin on things, though. His elbow patches make me think of Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother!


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