Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine 
Series: Standalone
Published: December 31st, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
250 pages (e-ARC)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Book Depository || Chapters/Indigo}

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 moment I saw The Promise of Amazing appear on Edelweiss, I knew I had to read it. As a contemporary YA junkie, it sounded like just the kind of book I would love. But as time went on and friends/fellow bloggers started reading and reviewing it, I became wary based on what they were saying. Within the first few pages of The Promise of Amazing, I felt a huge sense of relief - I knew I was going to like it.

Robin Constantine has a great writing style; one of the best I’ve read all year, in fact. The story was told in dual POV, and I found both Wren’s and Grayson’s voices to be very authentic. I was able to get into both of their heads and see things from their perspectives. Some of the things they said or thought were a bit shocking, but I liked that. Constantine didn’t shy away from things teenagers would actually say and do, and I found that refreshing. It made the book feel real.

Did I always like Wren and Grayson? Not necessarily. I thought some of the things Grayson did were kind of crummy, and his choice in friends was definitely questionable, but since a lot of the things he did were in his past, I tried to accept it. He was clearly trying to change, and Wren’s presence in his life made him want to be a better person. And that brings me to what seems to be other people’s main issue with the book: instalove. I’ve seen people all over Twitter, GoodReads, and the blogosphere talking about how they hated this book because of the instalove. As I got further and further into the book, all I could think was 'Huh? What instalove?' Did the romance move kind of fast? I guess…maybe. But no faster than a lot of other YA romances. I felt like Wren and Grayson got to know each other, and that their feelings took time and weren’t just BAM ‘I love you’. Clearly I’m in the minority here, but I enjoyed the romance and thought it was done well.

“Four weeks ago I couldn’t have imagined having this kind of relationship. But that’s how love happens, isn’t it? You’re just minding your own business, tossing hot dogs in your mouth, and bam—you cross paths with a beautiful girl you can’t stop thinking about.” ~ Grayson
~Quote taken from ARC of The Promise of Amazing - final draft might be different~

Besides the authentic voices of the characters, I also really liked how well fleshed-out the characters were, and not just Wren and Grayson. I felt like we got a good sense of who their family and friends were, and what kind of roles they played in their lives - support, instigator, cheerleader, moral compass, etc. I enjoyed all the subplots, and found myself engaged from beginning to end. 

The Promise of Amazing is a story about friendship, family, and love. It’s about second chances, learning from your mistakes, and holding onto the things that really matter in life. I thought it was funny, sweet, and unique, with great characters who felt very real. If you like contemporary YA (and don’t mind what most people apparently consider instalove), I’d definitely recommend The Promise of Amazing.
Have you read The Promise of Amazing? What did you think? If you haven't read it does it sound like something you'd be interested in? How do you feel about instalove?


  1. Well, guess what's getting added to my list of things to buy on Boxing Day? :D I've wanted to check this one out for a while and keep forgetting the name. I'm curious to see what I think, because yeah, there have been a *lot* of opinions.

  2. Holy crap, we have vastly different opinions on this one. I didn't particularly enjoy it, but I did like Wren throughout the book. I hate insta-love. Sometimes it can be done well enough for me to be okay with it, but not this time. I was SO disappointed in this one.

    Glad you enjoyed it though!


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