January 31, 2012

REVIEW: On the Bright Side by S.R. Johannes

Title: On the Bright Side* (The Starlings #1)
Author: S.R. Johannes
Publisher: Coleman & Stott
Published: 31 January 2012
Format: eBook Review Copy
GR Summary:
As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, SkyFones and InnerNets are all the rage. At her first Bright ceremony, G.O.D., the automated assignment system, spits out Angela Black, Gabby’s arch nemesis and longtime fencing rival. As a Bright, Gabby has to protect Angela, her assigned mortal, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. 
Back on earth, Angela starts hitting on Michael, Gabby’s crush and should-have-been boyfriend. Gabby’s pranks to quell the love are harmless at first until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, Celestial Sky Agent, Lawrence, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, steps into reveal that Angela has big problems, and what she really needs is Gabby’s help. 
Determined to right her wrong and ease her mother’s grief, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to earth for just one day. But if Gabby’s not careful, her well-meaning mission just might shift the very foundation of Heaven, Earth, and every place in between, causing the danger of the dark side to roam free.

My Review:
Fourteen year old Gabby gets the shock of her life when she dies of a tragic car accident, leaving her beloved mother and her best friend Michael, the only boy she’s ever really liked. After dying, Gabby finds herself in Cirrus, a sort of Heaven, as a BIT (Bright in Training). Being a BIT, Gabby must protect her Assigned Mortal. This is no easy task when her AM becomes her frenemy: Angela Black. Not only is Angela Black Gabby’s rival in fencing but also for the heart of her best friend. Gabby can’t help but feel jealous as she tries to break up Angela and Michael in the Mortal world with little pranks. But soon, one to many pranks go too far and the consequences Gabby has to pay may put all of Cirrus at risk. 

From the start, S.R. Johannes really had me hooked when Gabby starts off sitting on the top of her coffin and explaining what happened and how it happened. I was completely absorbing this book like a sponge. It’s such a unique book with an original twist on angels and the concept of Heaven.

S.R. Johannes’s writing is very easy to read and I love how well developed the plot was with its great pacing. I loved that everything connected and intertwined with each other from start to finish. I loved the aspect of right vs. wrong, heaven vs. hell, and good vs. evil in OTBS. I love how there’s Goddess Nephele whose on the good side while Malum is the bad. It’s such a different take and I loved how both made the story really come together.

The world of Cirrus is absolutely magical and otherworldly. The descriptions are easy to imagine and they fill your mind with these breath taking vivid images off all the SKYscrapers, the Pearly Gates and the view of Etern City. It was beautiful. S.R. Johannes’s world building in OTBS is more than amazing, it’s brilliant. The best part of Cirrus is all the modern angelic systems/technology like the InnerNet, SKYfone, SKYcam, and my ultimate favorite, the Miracle Mirror. They are so creative and really grab your attention in this book. 

I loved Gabby oh so much. She’s such a wonderful main character. She’s so determined, smart, hilarious and downright spunky. She really makes me miss the times when I was fourteen. Gabby really has character and personality. She’s easily relatable and I believe anyone can connect with Gabby no matter what age. I love how she’s realistically flawed. Even though she’s supposed to me some kind of angel, we see her do things on her own and we see that she’s still just what she is: a fourteen year old girl. I really understood Gabby, what she was feeling and going and the things she’s done. It’s hard to watch as all the people you love go on living without you. You really sympathize with her and I couldn’t help but ache with her. 

I also loved all the secondary characters. I love how Gabby and Lawrence hit it off. I kind of knew she’d be able to soften the old grouch. Jessica, Gabby’s BIT best friend, is so perky and positive. A perfect friend for Gabby. I loved their banter and how they helped each other throughout the whole book. I absolutely adored Michael. He and Gabby were just lovely together, so it saddens me that they never really got a chance on account of her death. Now there’s Angela. I really hated her and her attitude, but she’s the type of character who will change your mind the more you read and I’m glad she managed to win me over. 

OTBS really had me smiling all the while reading it. I laughed at all the funny parts and was completely enraptured. It’s such a heartfelt story and I enjoyed it very much.

Overall, OTBS is a cute, light and very fun read. This book will surely make you laugh and smile. OTBS is all about letting go, moving on and finding true happiness. I can’t wait to find out what will happen with Gabby the next time I encounter her in Cirrus!

A great read and highly recommendable!

“We cannot know when we will Transfer. That is why Mortals must live each day as if it’s their last.” (Page 174).

 My Rating: 

5 out of 5 stars!

*Thanks so much to Shelli for sending OTBS for me to review. In no way does Shelli have any influence over my opinion/review of this book. It is solely my own.

Check out Shelli's BLOG!


  1. What an awesome review, Jessirae! ♥ I love the quote and I'm really intrigued with the characters! This sounds like a wonderful read! So glad you enjoyed it! :)

    Celine @ Forget-me-not

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my review Celine!

  2. Awesome review, and thanks so much for the Giveaway. Can't wait to read OTBS.

  3. Awesome review once again Jessirae! Can't wait to read this one!! :D

  4. Thank you so much for the thoughtful review :) Im glad you liked it.


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