REVIEW: Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram

The Official Description: In this companion to the award-winning Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Darius suddenly has it all: a boyfriend, an internship, a spot on the soccer team. It’s everything he’s ever wanted–but what if he deserves better?

Darius Kellner is having a bit of a year. Since his trip to Iran this past spring, a lot has changed. He’s getting along with his dad, and his best friend Sohrab is only a Skype call away. Between his first boyfriend, Landon, his varsity soccer practices, and his internship at his favorite tea shop, Darius is feeling pretty okay. Like he finally knows what it means to be Darius Kellner.

Then, of course, everything changes. Darius’s grandmothers are in town for a long visit while his dad is gone on business, and Darius isn’t sure whether they even like him. The internship isn’t what Darius thought it would be, and now he doesn’t know about turning tea into his career. He was sure he liked Landon, but when he starts hanging out with Chip–soccer teammate and best friend of Trent Bolger, epic bully–well, he’s just not so sure about Landon anymore, either.

Darius thought he knew exactly who he was and what he wanted, but maybe he was wrong. Maybe he deserves better.

Just the facts: Queer young adult, coming of age

A coming-of-age novel, life isn’t always CW-show smooth for everyone. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Darius the Great Is Not Okay was a lovely book. I have to put that out there. It was was of the best books I read last year. The struggle for Darius to merge his Persian and American worlds was heartwarming and often upsetting.

Darius the Great Deserves Better is referred to as a “companion novel”. It’s basically a sequel that happens after he and his family return from a trip to Iran.

The characters in this book are dealing with a lot…but this is definitely not a plot-driven novel. I found myself a little unsure of where things were headed when I began to read, I had to just read and go along with it.

Darius is back at high school. He’s got a boyfriend now, Landon whom he seems to have mixed feelings about. He enjoys spending time with him but he’s not comfortable with a progression to a physical relationship. He is also struggling with body image… he thinks that he is fat and doesn’t like his stomach. It’s particularly uncomfortable for him if Landon tries to touch his stomach.

Both Darius and his lovely little sister Laleh (one of my favorite supporting characters) are still dealing with racism at school. There are some great discussions between the siblings about bullying and racism… and the author does a great job of illustrating the sheer ignorance that one can run into when trying to deal with it.

One of the people that is bullying Darius is Trent and what’s complex about that is that Trent is a friend of Chip. Darius has been becoming friends with Chip and he’s not sure why Chip stays silent when Trent calls him names or is racist. I know that’s a common thing for young people to go through… especially in High School.

There is a going on for Darius’ family. His father is working away from home and his mother is working extra shifts to help with their financial situation. Darius’ father is struggling with his own depression and his son is extremely worried about him. The Grandfather that Darius just got to know in the previous book is terminally ill and the miles of distance makes it difficult for everyone to know what to do. I really enjoy the way that Khorram writes about family in this book. The closeness of Darius and his father is a lovely relationship and it’s a job to see it in a YA context.

There were some spots in the book that I found a little choppy, maybe it is because I’m used to a plot-driven story rather than character-driven. This book is purely about Darius’ thoughts and feelings as he sorts out how he feels about things. There were some expressions/ dialogue that was a bit repetitive… like “no, maybe, I don’t know.”

This is a good read, not on the exciting end of the spectrum. It’s much more about characters and emotion and a good solid exploration of living with mental illness.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) homophobia, bullying at school, in-depth descriptions of living with depression, racism, a friend betrays trust, a brief mention of a character seeking asylum in another country, character’s grandfather dies, a character mentions needing to lose weight repeatedly.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram from Dial books via Edelweiss in exchange for an unbiased review.

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