Blog Tour: Darius the Great is Not Okay ft. ft. depression rep, fat rep, Iranian culture, SO MUCH TEA AND STAR TREK

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2 stars

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

*Thank you to PenguinTeen for my Darius arc

5/5 Stars

YA Contemporary

320 Pages

Pub. August 28 2018

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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 a Fractional Persian–half, his mom’s side–and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.

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 Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.

Adib Khorram’s brilliant debut is for anyone who’s ever felt not good enough–then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.

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So much of the plot happens in Iran, which means sO mUcH DiVeRsE cUlTuRe.

((and there are chapter titles. i live my life for books with chapter titles))

Things I enjoyed about Persian culture:

  • Taarof!!! I had no idea there was a name for this, but in Iran when you repeatedly decline hospitality to be polite, but your host retaliates with kind softness, and it’s a giant circle of…
  • “no, I couldn’t possibly eat the last cake” ,,, “oh, but I insist, you’re my guest !!” ,,, “no! It’s your cake, after all.” ,,, “TAKE THE DAMN CAKE, BRENDA.”
  • It’s called taarofing!
  • I enjoyed watching Darius trying to win the taarof game. So relatable.

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  • Everyone was so affectionate!!!!!! Kissing + hugging were very common and it was v sweet.
  • I fell in love with all the beautiful ways Zoroastrianism + Bahá’í + Islam were portrayed.
  • HOW THE SUNLIGHT IS SO BRIGHT IT’S ALMOST WHITE.

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  • Every single instance where tea and/or Persian food is described in detail
  • The way there are so many ways to address someone. There are special names for a family member you feel affection for, etc. and I just wish English had more words.

So the plot was amazing in every way.  It was so understated but I was fully immersed at the same time. It’s so EASY to read and the writing style reminded me of Benjamin Alire Sáenz ((Ari & Dante are so important. My last reread count was at 5))

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DARIUS IS THE MOST LOVABLE HUMAN BEING ON THIS EARTH.

I want him to be my best friend.

Some lovable things about Darius:

  • he’s a Star Trek nerd who makes constant Star Trek references
  • He’s constantly preparing assorted teas & wants to work at a fancy tea place one day
  • He’s very socially awkward like me
  • one of the best depression reps I’ve ever read.

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  • He has the ability to have entire conversations using only the word “Um.”
  • Fat rep! We need more of this in YA literature!
  • He’s gay but that doesn’t drive the plot + it’s not central to his characterization.
  • Even when he’s with Sohrab, Darius’ story never becomes a romance. it’s*pure*friendship
  • FRIENDS WE GOT OUR PLATONIC REP  !!

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  • He’s a really great big brother. a blessing for book siblings ❤
  • he often adds the adverb “deeply” to his adjectives. i.e “deeply embarrassing”

And Darius’ relationships! His friendship with Sohrab is a pastel rainbow made of flowers. There were several moments where there could have been drama, but instead they rationally talk to each other and apologize LIKE TRUE BEST FRIENDS.

And just watching them navigate their differences as kids from very different cultures was so wholesome.

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And Darius’ relationship with his dad!! A huge theme in this book is how Darius feels like he doesn’t measure up to his dad’s expectations. So, there’s this dynamic they have of feelings + wanting to understand each other. It was a so well-paced, and I was fully invested in dadplzacceptme!Darius.

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This was a 5/5 star read, the prose is gorgeous, the dialogue is brilliant, and the characters are endearing af.+ I learned so much about Iranian culture.

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Are you excited for this book?

Darius is special and I want to try all his favorite teas. Because he’s perfect and I adore him.

What’s your favorite LGBTQ+ contemporary right now?

-malanie

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15 thoughts on “Blog Tour: Darius the Great is Not Okay ft. ft. depression rep, fat rep, Iranian culture, SO MUCH TEA AND STAR TREK

  1. Norrie says:

    This sounds so good! I need to read it!
    A Star Trek nerd main character just sounds too cool to not get to know!

    That taarof thing… it’s good they have a word for it. I remember years and years ago, when we used to visit relatives and the process of leaving took about 1.5 hours cuz of it. “Ah, but take the left over food” / “I don’t want to” / “But i insist” / “No, i really don’t, thanks” / “Don’t you dare offend me, you shall take the food!!” … haha. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • malanielovesfiction says:

      JDNDJ YES!!!! all I really need are Star Trek references and I’m 100% invested 😭 and omg, you’ve experienced the epic leftover exchange too!!!????? and it’s like, okay at what point is it cool to demand the bowl I brought food in back? bc damn I cant just keep leaving my dishes at ppls houses. GOD SO AWKWARD.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norrie says:

        Hmm, good question… over the years i got into the habit of never using my good tupperware to bring food do people.
        On the other hand, half the food containers i have in the kitchen right now are probably someone else’s… 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams says:

    This is such a gorgeous review, Mal!! ❤❤

    I love the Taroofing in this book as well, and the depression rep (up to now) is really good. The relationship between Darius and his dad makes me so sad, though. But I adore his relationship with his sister, and I enjoy learning about Iranian culture so much!!

    (Also … I can’t get over how the book that reminds you of me is a five star read. 😭❤️)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dezzy @ The Thoughtful Voice says:

    Omg I love this review so much; your reviews are always so engaging and fun to read!! 😍😊 I love that this book has fat and depression rep, as well as a great platonic relationship. Darius the Great is not Okay sounds like such an amazing book and I’m so excited to read it! 💗 Also, my favorite LGBTQ+ contemporary is either Autoboyography by Christina Lauren or Simon vs.!! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    I’ve seen a couple of reviews for this book (one of them that convinced me to add it to my TBR list and get around to it ASAP), and honestly with everything I hear about Darius the Great is Not Okay the more sure I am that this is a book I’m going to love.
    Yay for platonic friendship rep (finally we have a book with that!) and just all of the rep in this book. 😀 Also all the mentions of food and tea in your review have made me hungry even before I pick up the book myself.
    Great review Malanie, I’m so glad you enjoyed this one as well. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • malanielovesfiction says:

      I think you’re going to love it tooooo c:
      I was so surprised that it was so friendship-centric, bc the premise gave me romance vibes???
      But i was so happy this wasn’t the case bc there aren’t enough YA books that focus on pure friendship???!!! also omg I’m hungry too now, Darius consumed so much tea throughout the book, and he actually convinced me to buy a kettle.
      Usually I just use really hot tap water but Darius was so technical w his tea and I wanted to do betteeerrrrr XD

      Liked by 2 people

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