Life and Style: Darius the Great Deserves Better

Life+and+Style%3A+Darius+the+Great+Deserves+Better

Amanda Wampler '24, Staff Writer

This summer, I read Adib Khorram’s debut novel, Darius the Great is Not Okay and absolutely fell in love with the world he created. This fall, I got to jump back into the world with his newly released sequel, Darius the Great Deserves Better, which follows Darius after returning from seeing his grandparents in Iran. Khorram discussed many important issues in his book that many can relate to, and his writing had a fantastic way of making readers, like myself, feel seen. 

SPOILERS AHEAD 

Darius the Great Deserves Better is a character driven novel that focuses on Darius Kellner, a biracial, gay teen, as he struggles with his familial relationships, his mental health, his sexuality, his first relationship, and his friendships. The novel begins a few months after returning from Iranand Darius has a boyfriend, Landon. In addition,he got a job at his favorite tea shop and he joined the soccer team. Along with all of these positive changes, Darius still struggles with his depression, the loss of his grandpa, and his identity.  

The stigma around men’s mental health is one that still needs a lot of work to be broken down, but Khorram was not afraid to outcast many of these norms when creating Darius. Darius and his dad both battle with depression, which is depicted in a very honest way. Through his self-doubts in his relationship, his body image issues, and his fear of intimacy, Darius’ mental health is a huge propeller of many plot points in this novel. I loved getting to see a depiction of a teen guy who was not just strong and funny, but rather a well-rounded depticion to include his shyness and his soft side.  

While the topic of mental health was the most prevalent in this novel, there was also a huge focus on familial relationships. It was refreshing to read a coming-of-age novel that was not all about friends and romantic relationships. Readers saw Darius stand up for his sister, bond with his dad, and help his mother throughout this family-centered story. There was, however, still emphasis on his new friendships and relationships, but they were more an addition to the family relationships, not the main plot. 

Overall, I thought this book was fantastic. Khorram’s writing style was soft and comforting, and Darius was a character that was so easy to root for. Since this is a character-driven novel, it is slow at times, but I think that it actually made it better. There was no racing plot or intense conflicts, so readers are able to sit back, relax, and soar through this novel. Even without a racing plot, it is still easy to be captured in Darius’s world because he is such a unique character. It is also refreshing to read a story about someone who is not well represented in Young Adult (YA) fiction. If you are looking for your next comfort read, look no further than the Darius the Great series.