Hall of Fame Review: Ride or Die by Khurrum Rahman

Thursday 23 April 2020
Title: Ride or Die
Author: Khurrum Rahman
Publisher: HQ
Publication Date: 9th July 2020
Pages: 400
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
JAY QASIM is finally out of the game and trying to lay low. But then he gets news that rocks his world and drags up everything that he thought he’d left behind. Jay must break his vow never to work with MI5 again and turn to the person who sold him out. But this time he’s determined to do it on his terms.

IMRAN SIDDIQUI once tried to kill Jay but now they have a common adversary. The one thing worse than death is watching the people closest to you die. And after the happiest day of Imran’s life becomes the most tragic, he will stop at nothing to take revenge on the people that have taken away his family.

But when everyone has their own agenda, who can you really trust?

Your most deadly enemy is about to become your closest ally.

Why does Khurrum Rahman enjoy ripping my heart out and stamping on it so much? But that aside, is he still my new favourite author? Abso-fucking-lutely. The Jay Qasim series has so far given me three of the best books I have ever read. If it wasn’t for the lockdown, I’d be standing outside Waterstones right about now with a megaphone, screaming at everyone to buy these books. Okay, maybe my social anxiety would stop me from doing that, but that’s what my blog, Goodreads and Amazon is for. For me to hopefully put across just how incredible these books have been. I was happy with my reviews for East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero, but I don’t think I’ve got the words to do Ride or Die justice.

I don’t even know where to start. Maybe with the pure and real emotion that is packed into these stories. And how that emotion is brought out of me as a reader. The characterisation is just so brilliantly done. Khurrum Rahman has a real talent to bring to the fore the beliefs of some truly evil people. Some of the people we read about are just so beyond evil that it is scary to read about. But what’s scarier is these aren’t just villains within a fictional story. They exist in our real world, and the realism of these characters shines through and makes for a truly uncomfortable read in places. But on the flip side of that, we have the good guys. The ones who put their lives on the line to protect ours. But sometimes that backfires, resulting in the deaths of those closest to them. I really can’t say too much more than that, especially for those yet to read the previous two books but the characterisation here is some of the best I have ever read about.

In terms of the plot here in Ride or Die, it is nothing short of incredible. The ending to Homegrown Hero had my jaw dropping. Normally a cliche, this time it actually dropped when the finale of that book just knocked me for six. And so I just could not wait to get my hands on Ride or Die, reading it in just two action-packed sittings. We see our protagonist Jay Qasim having to team up with Imran Siddiqui, the man who blames him (and others) for the devastation that happened in Homegrown Hero. Imy’s character has been one of my favourites so far this series. He is a character who I feel I have gone through every emotion with as I’ve read about him. As the story opened here, it felt almost perverse to be given such an insight into his mind and his through processes. Those thoughts, emotions and feelings being palpable as I read. To see him having to work with Jay added a whole new dynamic not just to the story, but also to their fractured relationship as a whole. Could Jay trust Imy? Could Imy trust Jay?  Khurrum does such a good job with Imy’s character, especially in terms of his relationship with Jay. The hatred, but the confusion. The thirst for revenge, but the somehow still trying to protect Jay where he can. As duos go, these are two of the best that I’ve read about. Never once do these characters feel fictional, it is like reading about real people.

Jay is just fantastic. I could just read about him for a thousand pages rather than just the 400 that flew by here. This series deals with some massive stories, however throughout there’s that underlying humour infused into the story the whole way through. Before we get into the meat of the story, the book opens with Jay in Qatar, soon having to make a rapid return to the UK. I’ve said in the past how unlucky he is, to find himself in these situations. We now know that it’s not just bad luck that brought him to the radar of some nasty people but still, I was asking myself just how much can one man have thrown at him. One of the elements of the story I enjoyed most was the introduction of a female love interest for Jay with the character of Sophia. Well, possible love interest. I have to say that Khurrum does write the comedy elements here just brilliantly. Jay’s outlook on life, the way he acts around Sophia, just everything about how he approaches the normalities of his abnormal life are just so brilliantly done that they just flow perfectly with the story, the comedy softening in places but never detracting from the seriousness of the entire narrative.

The plot moves at breakneck speed and I couldn’t read quick enough to see how things were going to conclude. As each chapter ended I instantly needed more, and as I started to near the end I was torn between wanting to finish the story and never wanting it to end. The last 40 or so pages I read on the edge of my seat. Well, the edge of my bed to be precise. I sat up, completely locked out the world around me and finished these closing pages almost forgetting to blink and breathe. When written words on a page can have that effect, you know you’ve discovered one incredible author. And that author is Khurrum Rahman. I finished the final chapter and immediately pressed to get to the next page, only to see an Acknowledgment page. I had finished the book. I almost screamed out 'No!', because I instantly wanted more. The ending to Ride or Die was just phenomenal. The whole book was outstanding. I finished Homegrown Hero in awe, and I finished Ride or Die even more in awe. I read the closing pages and had actual goosebumps. I might have even, almost, shed a tear. I can say nothing more other than this is a must-read series. It also has some of my favourite covers ever with the new paperback versions, and so I am hoping to pick them up soon. Please, please if you have this series on your TBR, do not leave it languishing, but move it straight to the top of that TBR and read them now. Thank me later. You won’t regret it.

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