ARC Review – The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

18114943Title:  The Promise of Amazing
Author:  Robin Constantine
Rating: ★★

Synopsis: 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

Huge thank you to Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for allowing me the chance to review this book.

Robin Constantine’s debut The Promise of Amazing might have one of the most misleading titles I’ve ever come across in a book. It promises to be “amazing” but it lacks a lot of substance. The premise suggestions the potential to be a thoughtful, smart romance, only to transform into a book of irrationality and hormones.

I found the characters in this book to be very problematic. Wren starts out cute, funny, thoughtful, but as she develops she becomes this character with too many first-world problems without a real head on shoulders. I found instead of trying to be adult in a lot of her personal problems, she often chose a more immature route as a means to get the attention of the reader. She’s supposed to be average, but she’s described as anything but. 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.

Admittedly, I actually enjoyed Jazz and Mad. I’m confused in some ways how they would be friends with Wren, but I adore how they support her and try to be there for her despite her tribulations. The relationship between the girls worked for me and I think Constantine hits their relationship at just the right level. The only problem? There’s not enough of this strong female interaction because Wren is too fixated on her insta-love with Grayson.

Grayson is actually the character I have a huge problem with. While Wren’s flaws are a lot smaller, I couldn’t understand the appeal of how anyone could fall for Grayson. Constantine doesn’t give the reader enough to buy into how Grayson goes from man-slut to changed man — it just happens instantly when he meets Wren, and while she attempts to make him slip back into his old form once or twice, he’s always “But Wren, but Wren, but Wren.” He just didn’t seem realistic to me, and his dude-bro behaviour just didn’t give me the attraction level I want as the reader to buy into their romance. He steals JEWELLERY and thinks its ROMANTIC. I just didn’t understand where half of his motives came from and his consistency as a character was too all over the place for me.

And then there is the insta-love. There’s no hard to get, no witty banter — it happens right at the beginning of the book and it never gives up its stranglehold. The reader is beaten over the head that Wren and Grayson are meant to be. I just didn’t see how they could work as a couple, how they were meant to be. The reader is thrown into it and expected to root for these two characters, but I never did. I never found myself wanting them to be together. The way they talked about each other was so immature, almost sucky, that I really struggled with the romance.

Finally, we come to the ending, which is easily one of the biggest cop out endings I’ve seen in awhile. Our antagonist character gets away with metaphorical murder and the reader is just forced to accept it. There’s no karmic punch, no real explanation, it just ends with Grayson and Wren being happy and everything is wrapped up with a neat bow with barely any consequences. Luke and crew don’t get a comeuppance, so you’re left to question why Constantine did that other than to have the protagonists still be together. Fine, I get it, they like each other, but seriously give us a conclusion that is much more sound.

I didn’t hate The Promise of Amazing, but I found the negatives truly outweighed the positives for me. I found half the time I couldn’t connect to the characters, and in a way, this is a YA book that made me feel too old to be enjoying YA. If you can stomach insta-love and a story that isn’t always good at explaining itself, this book may be for you, but for those who like book with a nice sense of closure and characterization — you can do better than The Promise of Amazing.

River’s Review:

I received an ARC from the publisher and I’m writing this honest review to say thank you.

Okay so… this book didn’t work for me. I’ll keep it short because I just don’t want to get into everything, and my lovely co-blogger already posted a review that I ONE-HUNDRED-PERCENT AGREE with on our blog (…).

For me the biggest problem with this book was that it was YA that reads as if it’s for teens and ONLY teens. I’m not THAT old, or out of touch with pop culture and the ‘youth of today’ but this book made me feel old and that YA was too young for me. Something I never want to feel. I love that YA spans such a wide range of topics and is accessible for both young and adult readers. But this book felt so immature and juvenile. The amount of penis references was a huge, huge, huge turn off. I actually almost DNF-ed this because of a part where Grayson makes a comment about his balls sliding down his leg and running out the door. I was almost at the end though, so I pushed on through. But SERIOUSLY.

I don’t mind pervy-ness, I don’t mind slang. Swearing, drinking, sex, drugs WHATEVER is fine when it works for the book. But I do mind immaturity. And I hated that I felt so… god, idek, gross? while reading some of this. And it’s not even dirty! There aren’t any steamy smut scenes! Just gratuitous references to Grayson’s penis. Which is not something that I want to read about in a YA contemporary unless IT’S NECESSARY. And it wasn’t. All it did was make Grayson seem like even more of a douche than he already was portrayed as.

And Wren… I never got a good grip on who or what she was. Quiet shy girl? Okay but she was sometimes too ‘cool’ for that.

And that was another problem I had with this book. It’s like it was shouting HEY I’M COOL AND YOUNG AND WITH IT. I KNOW WHAT THE COOL KIDS LIKE. I KNOW THAT HOLLISTER WAS COOL AND NOW ISN’T AND ONLY TOOLS SHOP THERE. I KNOW ALL THE CURRENT LINGO. Just so much of this ‘I’m hip and with it’ was shoved into it that I was rolling my eyes and shouting OKAY I GET IT.

Ugh, just all the first world problems and lack of anyone getting what they deserved didn’t work for me.

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