Righteous by Joe Ide: A review

I read Joe Ide's first book in his series, IQ, a couple of years ago and liked it well enough that I thought I would read further, but, as often happens, I was distracted by other books and actually sort of forgot about it. Then I happened upon this one recently. This is the second in the series and I decided to give it a read.

The events in this book take place ten years after the hit-and-run death of Isaiah Quintabe's older brother, Marcus, the experience that has set Isaiah on his life's path. His righteous anger over the incident has not abated; in fact, it has only gotten stronger over the years, fueled by the fact that the killer was never found and brought to justice. He is still searching for that killer.

But then Isaiah is contacted by Sarita, who was Marcus' girlfriend at the time of his death and someone for whom Isaiah has nourished a secret crush. She seeks his help for her sister, Janine, a DJ and gambler addict living in Las Vegas with her loser boyfriend, Benny. Janine and Benny are in trouble with Chinese gangsters and loan sharks. They are in way over their heads and in danger and Sarita wants to get her sister out of Las Vegas and away from those who threaten her. Isaiah takes the case and convinces his friend Dodson to help him out. Dodson somewhat reluctantly heads to Las Vegas with Isaiah (IQ), leaving behind his very pregnant girlfriend, Cherise. 

The main plot deals with IQ's efforts to help Janine and Benny and impress Sarita but there are a dizzying number of side plots, including IQ's discovery that his brother's death was no accident; it was actually murder. At a junkyard, he discovered the car that ran him down - 10 years after the event! (To say that that discovery stretched the limits of my imagination and my willingness to suspend belief is an understatement.)

But that hardly even scratches the surface. There was the drama of Cherise's pregnancy; there were multiple gang disputes that degenerated into brawls and all sorts of additional drama; there was a subplot involving human trafficking. There were too many characters to keep track of and each of the secondary characters was given an extensive back story to explain who he or she was and their role in the story. I felt the book would have benefited from a tighter focus on the main story and character and that other characters could have been adequately introduced through dialogue without the author having to give us a mini-biography of each of them. As it is, IQ comes across as a kind of one-dimensional character, motivated by anger and loneliness but without humor and with little leavening of any kind. 

Still, there are the makings of a fascinating character here and one feels sympathy for this lonely outsider. We want to see him succeed. I think the next book in the series will be definitive in deciding whether that character becomes a full-fledged human being and whether Joe Ide really has a successful series in the works.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars 

Comments

  1. My that sounds like a lot for one book! My husband too liked the first Joe Ide book but this one sounds a little crazy.

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    1. Yes, I was a bit disappointed. I like the characters but the plot was just too scattered for my taste.

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  2. I can see how a book with too many characters and side plots could lose focus. Maybe the author should have stopped after the first book.

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    1. Who knows why the writer made the choices he did in telling his story? He obviously wanted to get all of these backstories on the record, but I think it might have been accomplished more deftly and without interrupting the flow of his basic narrative.

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  3. From your review, three out of five stars sounds a little generous, Dorothy. I can't keep track when there are too many subplots. Sorry, but I didn't put this series on my must-read list. P.x

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    1. I think I do tend to be overly generous with some of my ratings and this one was definitely a disappointment. I do still plan to read the next one in the series at some point, just to see whether Ide got his act together.

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  4. This sounds like a read that my brain right now could not handle, I would not be able to keep track of everything!

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    1. Definitely a tighter focus on the main characters would have improved the narrative and made it easier to follow, in my opinion.

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  5. I await your review of the next one. Kind of a cliffhanger you gave us. I have been coming across many cliffhangers in my reading lately and become fond of the device.

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    1. It was a bit of a cliffhanger. Nothing was really resolved. I'm hoping the next entry in the series will have a tighter plot.

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  6. I hope the series improve with a bit of a tighter focus. Why is it that authors nowadays think they can write a hodgepodge of a story and anyone will gladly read?

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    1. Maybe there's an audience out there for hodgepodge, but I am hoping the next one will be better.

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