This book recording was read by Michael Levi Harris.
The Darius the Great is Not Okay* audiobook was written by Adib Khorram and was narrated by Michael Levi Harris. It’s a young adult fiction story about a “Fractional Persian” American boy named Darius Kellner who travels with his family to Iran for the first time to visit with his maternal family. The story taps into a spectrum of Darius’ struggles, including everything from depression to his challenge with his own identity as he sits on the line between his American and Iranian heritages and the expectations he feels he needs to live up to from among the many people in his life.
I’ve attempted to make this review as spoiler-free as I possibly can. Any information specific to the story doesn’t go any further than what you’d see in its description on Goodreads, Audible, or Amazon.
The Good Stuff About the Darius the Great is Not Okay Audiobook
I absolutely adored the Darius the Great is Not Okay audiobook. I have listened to it several times – a very rare thing for me to do – and enjoy it just as much each time. There is very, very little that I have in common with Darius (aside from my teenage obsession with Star Trek: The Next Generation, and my current ongoing battle with clinical depression), but I felt as though I could relate to him on a profound level.
Adib Khorram did an outstanding job sharing the first-person perspective of an enchantingly flawed teenaged boy whose kindness and compassion are limitless. I suffered with Darius, cried with him, and nearly hyperventilated while listening to a particular scene with four lights as I walked to a friend’s house. That had to have looked interesting…
Darius the Great is Not Okay is one of those very special books in which the characters feel so real and the story is so immersive that it’s difficult to remember that I wasn’t actually there. Is it silly of me to want to sit quietly with Sohrab or to hug his grandmother and never let go? Possibly. But I’d still like that. Fictional or not, they’re people I love very much and whom I miss between re-listening sessions.
Michael Levi Harris as Narrator of the Darius the Great is Not Okay Audiobook
As great of a job as Adib Khorram did writing Darius’ character, Michael Levi Harris gave an equally exceptional performance in narrating him. He freakin’ nailed it. To me, the voice used for this reading is exactly what Darius sounds like.
In fact, each of the voices used were exactly how all the characters in the book were meant to sound. Michael Levi Harris has some serious skills in reading everyone from an eight-year-old girl (Darius’ sister Laleh) to teenaged Darius himself, his parents, and his mother’s entire family – each of whom had different voices, cadences and paces with which they spoke, not to mention different depths of Farsi accent! Huge applause from me!
I wish there were more books read by Michael Levi Harris. I was over-the-moon excited when I learned that he would also be narrating the audiobook for the sequel Darius the Great Deserves Better* (in which his performance was equally incredible. I’ll likely review that one eventually too).
I have already recommended the Darius the Great is Not Okay audiobook and printed version (for those people in my life who read with their eyes, not their ears) to friends and family. This novel is too much of a fantastic experience to miss.
From how lovable Darius is to the nostalgia of all the Star Trek: The Next Generation references and the fascinating facts about Iran, Yazd, Zoroastrianism, Persian food and customs, and occasional Farsi words, the story was rich, real, and delightful. I had the sequel on preorder before it came out, listened to it right away when it did, and am now looking forward to the release of Adib Khoram’s latest book Kiss & Tell* (which is already out in print and ebook formats) as an audiobook, since I’ve preordered that, too.
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