Blog Tour: The Pros of Cons by Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar, & Michelle Schusterman


Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Point
Genre: young adult contemporary
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: standalone

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. The full tour schedule can be found HERE. Please go give my fellow tour hosts some love!

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour. This does not affect the content of my review.

Drummer Phoebe Byrd prides herself on being one of the guys, and she's ready to prove it by kicking all their butts in the snare solo competition at the Indoor Percussion Association Convention.

Writer Vanessa Montoya-O'Callaghan has been looking forward to the WTFcon for months. Not just because of the panels and fanfiction readings but because WTFcon is where she'll finally meet Soleil, her internet girlfriend, for the first time.

Taxidermy assistant Callie Buchannan might be good at scooping brains out of deer skulls, but that doesn't mean it's her passion. Since her parents' divorce, her taxidermist father only cares about his work, and assisting him at the World Taxidermy and Fish-Carving Championships is the only way Callie knows to connect with him.

When a crazy mix-up in the hotel lobby brings the three girls together, they form an unlikely friendship against a chaotic background of cosplay, competition, and carcasses!

When I first heard about The Pros of Cons, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy because it seemed like such a me book. I LOVE books that explore fandom, which you all probably know by now, but also, when I was a senior in high school, my friends and I joined the indoor drumline ensemble. Not much a stretch since we were all band nerds, but I had played flute for seven years so it was a definite change! I love that there's a rise in fandom books, but there are so few band (marching or symphonic) books that The Pros of Cons was going to be a must-read for me, even with the eyebrow-raising taxidermy angle (which is actually really amusing and intriguing).

For all the silly shenanigans of The Pros and Cons—mixed up luggage, fanfic panels, taxidermy workshops, percussion performances—it's very much a character driven story, with each of the narrators primarily confronting one major aspect of their lives, be it friendship, romance, or family. And along the way they find one another, royally screw up a lot of things, and then figure a way to put themselves back together. One thing that I really loved about this book was that the authors really knew when to set silly aside and dig DEEP into the characters, particularly in the climactic confrontation scenes for all three. And those scenes aren't all what you'd expect. Phoebe, who is my favorite narrator of the three (unrelated, but Phoebe gets an amazing swoony kissing scene that I LOVED), has a moment when she confronts her former bestie and it does NOT go as planned. It's a beautiful moment of perspective and growth, and I just adored it.

The setting is very much a character of the book, and I like it. Having four different events with attendees of WILDLY different demographics and interests in one convention center is such a fun backdrop (and based in real life!). It honestly sounds like a joke: "A drummer, a nerd, a taxidermist, and a beauty contestant walk into a hotel..." And it allows for some fun background characters like a very drunk, very not-fully-clothed Severus Snape and a woman with a pair amorous taxidermied boars. Additionally, there's a podcast created with attendees from all four conferences, and it couldn't have happened without all of them. The raw interview transcripts and the final edit are some of my favorite moments in the book!

If you're wondering about diversity, one of the narrators is biracial (Mexican & Irish). Another character drops a load of racial microaggressions on her frequently (this character is super awful for a whole heap of reasons), but they are challenged in the text. There's also a significant secondary character who is gender-neutral. In her inner narration, Vanessa initially perceives Merry as a girl, but upon noticing a My Pronouns Are They/Them/Their button, Vanessa changes to using the appropriate pronouns. This also occurs when one of the other main characters meets Merry.

It took me a few chapters to get into the feel of the book; even though there are three very different main characters and three writers—each taking on one point of view—it was hard for me to distinguish between the narrators for a bit. Their voices just seemed really similar. Also, sometimes first person narration isn't the greatest at describing main characters which meant I didn't have a great idea of how each of our narrators looked until they started interacting with one another. There's one scene in which Vanessa is talking to one of the other girls in the hotel vending area. I was absolutely sure that she was talking to Phoebe, and then when the other character introduced herself, I was shocked to realize it was actually Callie. But as I read more of the book, I felt them really stand out, and it was easier to distinguish each voice.

The Pros of Cons is a silly feel-good book that is enormously fun to read, but it has plenty of depth and development to take it to the next level. I guarantee it will have you laughing, but you'll also feel all the feels and maybe even do some personal introspection as well.

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About Alison Cherry:
I grew up in Evanston, IL, then went to Harvard and got a degree in photography. (Yes, that is possible. Although they like to call the visual arts “Visual and Environmental Studies,” for some unknown reason.) Then I spent the next three years as a freelance lighting designer for various theaters throughout the Northeast. Eventually, I got tired of hanging out on ladders and wrestling with faulty electrical equipment for 80 hours a week while getting paid almost nothing, so I spent the next four years working as a photographer for the Metropolitan Opera. Now I live in Brooklyn with my two kitties, Vivian and Sophia, and write full-time. I’m represented by Holly Root at Root Literary.

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About Lindsay Ribar:
Lindsay Ribar lives in New York City, where she works in book publishing by day and writes YA novels by night. She attends far too many concerts, watches far too much nerdy TV, and consumes fanfiction like it's made out of chocolate. She is fond of wine, cheese, and countries where they speak English but with really cool accents. Oh, and she has a Harry Potter tattoo.

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About Michelle Schusterman:
Michelle Schusterman is the alleged author of less than one hundred books for kids and teens, most of which are not published under a secret pseudonym, and all of which include various characters. She lives on a steamboat with her pet crawfish, unless she's lying, in which case she lives among the spiders beneath the stage at the Metropolitan Opera, unless that's another lie, in which case she lives in an apartment in Queens with her chocolate lab, who can talk.

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3 winners will receive a finished copy of The Pros of Cons.
US Only.

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