February 8, 2012

Book Review: On the Bright Side

Title: On the Bright Side
Author: S.R. Johannes
Release Date: January 31, 2012

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 Thoughts

Sometimes when I read a MG book I know right off that it isn't a book I can recommend to my 7th graders.  And usually that's because of one of two reasons - it's waaaaaay to little kidish or it's kinda quirky and they just won't get it.  I'm please to say that this book fit NEITHER! This is a book that I could easily recommend to my 7th graders - well the girls.  The main reason - I think they could really relate to Gabby.  She's such a typical middle school girl.  She just wants to fix things, but doesn't at all look at the big picture.  Oh do I know kids like that!

Ok let's look at some of the elements of the story.  The plot first - well done there.  It moved along very well without lagging too much.  I liked that Gabby had to guard her her old rival. That added some great tension and really helped Gabby take a good look at herself.  And I liked how the author made this play out.  Gabby did what a lot of girls that age would've done in that situation, so it seemed very realistic even when I was frustrated with her behavior.  And I guess an adult being frustrated with Gabby's behavior was also realistic! But what I liked was that the plot wasn't just the straight forward story.  There was always a hint at more.  I could tell that something bigger was going on, but I wasn't sure what.  That kept me reading as well.   And whoa the ending! Lots that I didn't see coming! Great stuff there.

Now about Gabby.  Like I said - she was a super realistic girl.  Her actions were not so far out of line that I couldn't believe a girl her age would do them.  I liked that.  I did, however, get frustrated with those actions. Now you have to remember I'm a mom to a 12 year old, so I was coming at them from that perspecitve.  I'm not so sure the intended audience would feel the same way! I liked the growth I saw in her too.  By the end she had changed, but it was also a realistic change.  She didn't go from being more immature to completely adult-like.  That I would NOT have been able to buy!  In all Gabby was fun and likeable.  And yes I agree with her - having to spend enternity in white pleated pants would stink!

One thing that I was confused about.  There was a lot of talk about being selfless, the Brights (what Gabby is now) helping their assigned mortal with building character - that kind of stuff. But then it seemed that a lot of emphasis in Cirrus was on looks - pretty dresses, the way the current woman in charge looked, being able to change your clothes, the prettiness of the wings - all that seemed to go against what Gabby is being told, as a Bright, she needs to do and think.  I just found this confusing sometimes.  It wasn't a big issue in the enjoyment of the book, but I did think about it off and on.

Final thought: Likable character put in a tough situation
Best stick-with-you image: at the dance - yikes!
Best for readers who: can relate to being forced to work with your worst enemy!
Best for ages: 11-14

For the Guys? No not really.  This really is a girl book.


  1. Great honest review. This one definitely sounds cute.

  2. Speaking of books boys and girls can relate to, have you tried Airborn?

  3. No I haven't, but I just saw that GreenBeanTeenQueen was reviewing it. I've had it on my shelf, so now I really want to take a look at it.