Review by Ivy
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“You deserve people in your life who make you happy, Darius. No matter what. Just remember that. Okay?”
Darius Kellner returned from his trip to Iran with a new BFF and strong connection to his Iranian grandparents. Since then, he’s also started dating his first boyfriend, working at the tea store of his dreams, and found a reliable friend group in his soccer team. It seems like Darius is finally going to be okay, but he falls out of step as a death rocks his family, a new crush distracts him, and his best friend starts to drift away. To get himself back on track Darius must learn to advocate for himself like never before because, honestly? He deserves better.
Darius the Great Deserves Better (Aug. 2020) feels like a smooth transition from its predecessor. It’s definitely more of a companion than a sequel, but the story doesn’t feel as frivolous or self-serving as most companion novels. When I finished reading I felt just as emotionally impacted and satisfied as I did at the end of Darius the Great Is Not Okay.
Darius is one of my favorite YA characters because he is deeply relatable while not being cynical. From shame about his size to his quiet efforts not to assume anyone’s gender, Darius is someone who is both unsure of himself while also confident enough to try and be the best person he can. Often writers feel like the protagonist must have some unlikable quality to be realistic, but Darius proves that kind characters can connect with the reader just as, if not more, deeply.
Overall, Darius the Great Deserves Better was an unexpected and greatly appreciated follow-up novel to Adib Khorram’s incredible debut work. The plot was slow but emotional, depicting realistic conflicts without the overdone drama of other novels. Darius’ story has come to an end in the best way possible and I am itching to see what fantastic, empathetic journey Adib takes me on next.
Rating: four purple Gatorades/five
For fans of: The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson, Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, Here to Stay by Sara Farizan
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