Book Review: On the Bright Side: The Starling series, Book 1 – by S.R. Johannes

Book: On the Bright Side
Author: S. R. Johannes
Publisher: Coleman & Stott
Date: February 15, 2012
Genre: tween paranormal (directed at ages 9-12)
Pages: 256 paperback
Price: $8.99; less on Kindle
My rating: an interesting, unusual paranormal with humour for young readers

From the author I received an electronic copy of On the Bright Side to read on my pc kindle in exchange for an honest review.

I began reading this book as I usually do, with a serious take-it-all-in attitude. It didn’t take me long to discover that, for one thing, there are few, if any, similarities to the real Heaven.

But, let me back up a little.

This story is about a teenage girl who dies suddenly and is transported to Haven (that’s not a misspell), otherwise known as Cirrus. So begins her afterlife as a ‘Bright” and her training to be a guardian angel. Knowing that people do not become angels (since angels are angels and people are people), at that point I began reading this story with a different attitude, one of simply enjoying the author’s amazing imagination and the world she created based on good and evil. It was quite interesting, entertaining, and captivating.

The main character, Gabby, is now a BIT (Bright in Training) and being prepared to protect a former friend she would rather ignore. To add insult to injury, that friend is strongly interested in Gabby’s still living almost-boyfriend. The added frustration is that the angel she befriends in Cirrus is assigned to … ahh, but I must be careful to not spoil the read for you. I will just say that Ms. Johannes has written a story that young readers are sure to enjoy as they follow Gabby defiantly – and not without serious mishap – set out to earn her wings.

A few things of note:

  • There may be young readers who will take parts of this book seriously, therefore misunderstanding what Heaven is really like.
  • There are many puns and plays on words, such as Skyfone, and there is much technology used in Cirrus (amusingly, there is not a perfect cell phone connection there either), and skyolations for when rules were broken (violations).
  • The outcome of the battle between good and evil is dependent upon the actions and abilities of the Brights.
  • The characters’ personalities are very flawed (meaning jealous, temperamental, scheming) as they live in death with much the same human attitudes and problems as they did in life.

I did find S.R. Johannes’ imagination to be intriguing as she came up with ingenious inventions, humourous situations, and surprising plot twists. It became obvious that she was not trying to use Cirrus as an actual perfect setting but a fictional, imaginary, outlandish one which made for quite a different easy-to-read story.

If you want your young reader to enjoy a fantastical fictional experience, this could be a good book to pick up. It had me pulled along as I kept wanting to find out what’s going to happen next.

On the Bright Side by S.R. Johannes is the first book in a planned series called The Starlings, so start with this one.

You can find On the Bright Side listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


6 responses to “Book Review: On the Bright Side: The Starling series, Book 1 – by S.R. Johannes

  1. Thank you! I created a new world b/c I didnt want people to judge the book b/c of religious beliefs. It is a fun fictional story 🙂


  2. This book sounds very interesting. I like the idea. Is it a YA or a middle grade book?


    • Eric, this book is aimed at ‘tweens’ — those youth who are in the 9 to 12 age group. Thank you for asking; I’ve made that clearer in my review. 🙂


  3. This won’t be a book I pick up, having no ‘tweens and so on, but your review was very well done and kept me reading until the end. The review was engaging enough that if someone did ask for a book recommendation for this age group, I suspect I’d remember this one – or at least remember that you did the review so I can come and check out the title and author again!


I look forward to reading your greatly appreciated comments. Thanks for making my day! :)

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