(EN) Review: Adib Khorram – Darius The Great Is Not Okay

A few months ago, I found out about the book Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram. I decided to keep an eye on it and its reviews before deciding whether to buy and read it. Well, all reviews were positive, so I did both. But am I just as pleased with this book as everyone else?

(EN) Review: Adib Khorram – Darius The Great Is Not OkayDarius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Published by Dial Books on August 28, 2018
Pages: 316
ISBN: 0525552960
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Goodreads
three-stars

Darius doesn't think he'll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He's about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it's pretty overwhelming--especially when he's also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom's family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what's going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don't have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he's spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush--the original Persian version of his name--and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he's Darioush to Sohrab. When it's time to go home to America, he'll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.


Expectations
As stated before, my expectations for this book were high. All reviews that I read about Darius The Great Is Not Okay were glowing. However, I have to tell you that my expectations were not met entirely and here’s why.

Story
Yes, the story is okay. Not spectacular, but okay. We follow Darius, who suffers from clinical depression and faces a disapproving dad and a lot of bullying at school. He doesn’t really know where he belongs, in America or in Iran. Throughout the book, we discover Darius’ true self along with Darius himself.

Too simplistic
And here comes my biggest concern and my main critique. This book is way and way too simplistic for a young adult novel. This is regarding both story line and writing style, but mainly the writing style. On a positive note, the book reads quickly. On the other hand, I find Darius The Great Is Not Okay more suitable as a middle-grade than as a YA. The writing really felt young and middle-grade, which annoyed me really bad at some point. Therefore, I got bored of the story and wanted this book to be finished. I missed any connection with Darius or any other character and this is mainly because of the writing style. The sentences are really short, which gives this book a somewhat immature feeling. Maybe I’m spoiled by all the fantasy books I read, but I have read contamporary books which have been excecuted much better.

Conclusion
Overall, I enjoyed reading Darius The Great Is Not Okay, but I did not as much as I hoped to do. The story is alright, but the writing style was way too simplistic for me. This made this book feel more suitable as a middle-grade than as a young adult novel. Apparently, this led me to enjoy the story less. I did not feel any connection to Darius or any other character and I even got bored at one point. The sentences are really short which made the excecution of the story feel a little immature. However, Darius The Great Is Not Okay still deserves a rock solid three stars, but I would not recommend this book to an older YA reader soon.

three-stars

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