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See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher via Edelweiss.
YA contemporary is my genre, okay? Most of my favorites come from it and the only thing I look more than a good YA contemporary novel is a good YA vampire novel because I'm one of the few remaining vampire fans out there. The Promise of Amazing sounded adorable and seemed to promise complex characters, a realistic story, and so much more. I enjoyed it to an extent, but the novel disappointed me.
Both Wren and Grayson have unique narrative voices and the potential to be strongly written characters. The key word there is "potential" because they don't quite get there. The narrative explains their connection after Wren saves Grayson from choking to death as something "mystical" between savior and saved. That's okay at first, but as the novel plods on with very little momentum, it reads more like insta-love. What makes this especially painful is that good, believable character motivations are that close and yet they're missed by a mile.
Wren and Grayson share the same motivation for getting to know each other: the mystical connection they had when she saved his life. Wren is directionless, frustrated, and distraught after a recent break-up; why can't her motivation for getting to know Grayson be her finally getting fed up with her lot in life and throwing caution to the wind to see where she goes? Grayson got himself kicked out of school and before he nearly died, he was a great big douchebag. Why can't his motivation for wanting to see her be a desire to prove to Wren he was worth saving and therefore prove the same thing to himself?
I shouldn't have to go for alternate, canon-rejecting interpretations like this to get a believable motivation from a set of characters.
Regardless, Wren and Grayson are likeable/understandable enough protagonists even if they aren't as fully developed and properly motivated as they should be. I wish there had been a greater focus on them as individuals, them as a couple, and the problems they both carry. There's plenty of fodder for development in their home lives, but very little is put to good use. Instead, we get a lukewarm romance and some ridiculous drama.
With Grayson and the theft ring he started with some of his friends, I understood why they were able to pressure him and why he had such a hard time with them. It didn't work at first but it eventually did. That whole plot line isn't terribly overdramatic on its own, but everything to do with his former best friend Luke and Wren's former best friend Ava is ridiculous. Ava is the usual cardboard mean girl; Luke is built up as a great antagonist and I found myself most engaged toward the end of the novel when he became a greater part of the story, but everything with him fizzles out at the end. It feels sadly anticlimactic and wraps everything up too neatly.
There are plenty of people who will get along with The Promise of Amazing just fine. It's not a horrible novel at all and excluding all the shenanigans with Ava, it's not particularly offensive either."Fine" just isn't good enough for me. I want "good," "amazing," "feels-smashing," and everything else along those lines. "Fine" is not what I want.