Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran.
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian–half, his mom’s side–and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.
–from the back cover of Darius the Great Is Not Okay
Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Farsi version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.
Like Only Mostly Devastated, which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, I read this book as part of a June readathon. And now, the time has come for me to review Darius the Great Is Not Okay. And let me tell you; I am beyond excited to talk about this amazing book.
But keep reading to find out what, exactly, makes it such an excellent read!
The most important thing I can say about this book is that Khorram has an incredible talent for bringing out emotions.
Darius has a lot going on in his life, and he has a lot that he struggles with. Some of it is due to his own mental health and some of it is due to the way people around him act. Because of both those things, though, his narration is often filled with heartbreaking sentiments about his self-worth, how the people around him treat him, and the like. Khorram doesn’t hold back (as he shouldn’t) and does a great job of showing how Darius’ mental health affects him and his everyday life.
But, in contrast to the heartbreaking moments, Khorram does an equally excellent job portraying the positive emotions in the story. And there’s plenty of goodness, too. Darius’ relationship with Laleh is so sweet, and I honestly loved it. Of course, the friendship between Darius and Sohrab steals the show, and I absolutely loved it.
And though, obviously, I really enjoyed how strong their bond was, I also liked the Khorram didn’t make their friendship all sunshine and rainbows. There were moments where they weren’t perfectly in sync; there were moments where they had road bumps and misunderstandings. But they worked through them and came out the other side.
Of course, Darius’s internal journey of self-discovery is equally well-done and admirable. Which is good, considering that’s the main arc of the book. Though, again, I liked how Khorram made it realistic; Darius still has unresolved struggles at the end, and everything isn’t tied up in a perfect bow.
Finally, on a lighter note, Darius makes near-constant Tolkien references. Which, of course, I loved. That earns this book an imaginary sixth star, if you ask me.
In the end, I think that Darius the Great is a must-read. It’s an incredible story about friendship, self-discovery, and not letting your struggles control your entire life. Honestly, there are just so many important messages and themes in this book. I absolutely loved it, and I can’t wait to get to the sequel. (Which I actually only learned existed recently. Thank you to the friend who made me aware of that!)
If you do choose to read this book, or if you already have, drop a comment down below and let me know your thoughts! I always like to talk about books, but especially about the ones I love. Also, if you enjoyed reading this review for Darius the Great Is Not Okay, use the Book Reviews tab above to see my full library of reviews. There, you can find a lot of other amazing books.
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CONTENT WARNING: Ableism, depression, Islamophobia, suicidal ideation.