Review: The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart by R. Zamora Linmark

Title: The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart
Author: R. Zamora Linmark
Release Date: August 13, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 352

Content Warnings: homophobic language, use of the word retarded

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Readers of Adam Silvera (They Both Die at the End) and Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X) will pull out the tissues for this tender, quirky story of one seventeen-year-old boy’s journey through first love and first heartbreak, guided by his personal hero, Oscar Wilde.

Words have always been more than enough for Ken Z, but when he meets Ran at the mall food court, everything changes. Beautiful, mysterious Ran opens the door to a number of firsts for Ken: first kiss, first love. But as quickly as he enters Ken’s life, Ran disappears, and Ken Z is left wondering: Why love at all, if this is where it leads?

Letting it end there would be tragic. So, with the help of his best friends, the comfort of his haikus and lists, and even strange, surreal appearances by his hero, Oscar Wilde, Ken will find that love is worth more than the price of heartbreak.

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I’m really not entirely sure what I just read. The synopsis for The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart makes the bold claim that this novel is for fans of Adam Silvera and Elizabeth Acevedo, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I saw no similarities and was quite disappointed. If you’re going to compare a title to other books, please make sure you are actually choosing similar things.

Maybe it’s because I’m not familiar with Oscar Wilde, but this was an incredibly confusing story. I’m not entirely sure what the point of all it was. The author did include some important narratives on subjects such as gender identity, peer acceptance, and the class system, but it was all jam-packed into only a few parts instead of being themes carried throughout the book as a whole.

I met someone earlier this week, and this morning, I woke up to my heart beating a thousand hummingbird heartbeats.

the importance of being wilde at heart by r. zamora linmark

It also felt like Linmark was attempting to cram too much into this novel. There were almost too many themes spread out. At one point the Oscar Wilde book club is talking about homosexuality and what it was like for queer people in the 1800s then suddenly their biggest concerned is the banning of books. Nothing felt constant enough to really matter.

The reader is also never able to get to know the characters well enough. We’re given hardly any background information and really don’t find anything out about them except for that they all love Oscar Wilde. Maybe I’m a different type of reader, but I need more to go on. I can’t just know characters for a brief moment, I need to understand what brought them to this point and feel like I know them well enough to have an idea of where they’d go from here.

Nothing kills time more effectively – and with more fun – than reading.

the importance of being wilde at heart by r. zamora linmark

R. Zamora Linmark was originally a poet and playwright and unfortunately, his writing style just doesn’t translate well to YA. His flowery writing is too confusing. There are a lot of extra words for the reader to sift through in order to figure out the simple point that is trying to be made. There’s no clear or concise reason for why this particular story is being told. It just kind of is. Honestly, if this hadn’t been a review copy that I felt obligated to read, I probably would have DNFed it.

A digital ARC was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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6 thoughts on “Review: The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart by R. Zamora Linmark”

  1. Ugh based on your review, I am disappointed for you. This one seemed like it had such potential that was wasted. I absolutely hate when books are inconsistent on what is important in them and what they are going to focus on. Sorry this wasn’t the book for you but here’s to hoping the next one is better!

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