Writing style: 7/10
Character building: 8/10
My Opinionated Review
Note: This is a prequel in The Artist Trilogy series. You can find the review for the first book here
On Every Street is a book that left me utterly conflicted. I have not expected to like the story, however, it surprised me in the best possible way. This prequel completely changes the game, giving the reader a different kind of perspective by telling the whole story between Ellie and Javier. Now, understanding the reason behind Javier’s actions makes the story at the same time clearer and more confusing, and leaves me with more love for the character. Although this story did not change my feelings towards the bad wolf Javier by much (I do not want to see Ellie and Javier as a couple in the future), it definitely made me appreciate the character’s complexity and multi-layer-ism.
This prequel tells the story of Ellie when she was Eden White, and ready to get her revenge on the man who destroyed her life. But when she decides to play Javier, a dangerous drug lord, to get to Travis, she soon sees that her game is turning to real feeling. The story is not new, we see these characters’ older selves in Sins & Needles. But it gives a different kind of perspective, allowing the reader to understand the past much better.
First of all, the fact that I never like prequels, or side stories, or other characters’ perspectives, needs to be acknowledged. They just don’t do it for me. I like the main story and that is it. However, often, I find myself forcing to read them in order to be able to enjoy the main story better. I believed that I needed to learn about Ellie’s backstory when she was Eden White and in love with a villain of Sins & Needles. I was prepared to skim the book but happened to be pleasantly surprised how this story completely allured me and brought up new feelings. It probably was one of the best prequels I have ever read. I am so glad that I read Sins & Needles first because knowing Ellie as a strong and conniving woman has made her actions as Eden White more understandable. Also, it completely changed the viewpoint of Javier. He is portrayed as a complete villain in the first book, and here the reader can get insight on what drew Ellie to him.
So although I definitely enjoyed the story, and I felt the chemistry between two main characters, it still remained a dysfunctional relationship. There are many books that try to glorify those harmful love stories, but in this case, it wasn’t it. The reader is never misguided, thinking that Javier is some kind of hero, as well as made aware of Ellie’s reasoning behind her actions, making her naïve persona easily relatable.
In this book, Ellie is Eden, and at times it felt like I was reading about a completely different character. Although I prefer Ellie, the strong and smart con artist, it was quite easy to understand and relate to Eden. She grew up without love, filled with hate and thirst for revenge, and was never appreciated. She is also young and naïve, still an innocent girl trying to find her place in the world. So when Javier admires her, loves her, and is ready to give her the world, she decides to ignore the reality and live in a lie. It is easy to avoid reality, easy to believe the lie and forget the truth, especially when it makes you feels good. Javier works as an escape for Ellie. She escapes her life, escapes even herself, and these are such human emotions that everyone can relate to.
Javier really has the ability to make your heart melt. Being so loved, especially by a man who should not be able to love, would make anyone feel special. Javier definitely possesses quite a few redeemable qualities. However, he is also a killer. The scenes where he would open up about his feeling towards Eden, and towards himself, really made me feel for the character. Nevertheless, I never stopped seeing him as a villain. Therefore, knowing that the relationship was doomed and Ellie would soon be getting on a journey to becoming her best self, made me enjoy the ride without judgements and eye-rolling. Plus, the fact that the book is insanely does not harm at all.
There were moments where Eden’s actions were really unwise, but the author always acknowledged her stupidity, making the character human with a desire to love and be loved. Javier was never made into a ‘perfect’ boyfriend, Eden knew she was living an illusion, at times even questioning whether Javier’s actions were romantic or creepy. This awareness gives the reader a completely different perspective of this dysfunctional relationship – Javier’s bad actions and Eden’s willingness to ignore all the bad stuff are never glorified, but the ability to love a bad man is never judged as well. The voice of reason here was Gus, and he made both Ellie and the reader aware of the relationship being a delusion. And that, plus the horrible stunt that Javier pulls, allows Eden to turn back into Ellie, and become the character I love very much.
I feel there has to be more story to tell behind Javier’s actions. Now he is definitely a villain – a killer with an obsession. However, I still feel he possesses some redeemable traits. So off to the next book, where I hope to find more answers.
I definitely recommend reading this prequel after Sins & Needles, but before going into Shooting Scars
- Dire Straits – On Every Street
- Nine Inch Nails – Wish
- Calexico – The Vanishing Mind
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – People Ain’t No Good
- Elliott Smith – Bottle Up and Explode