The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart

The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart

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 cha...

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Title:The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart
Author:R. Zamora Linmark
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart Reviews

  • Brenna Clark

    This novel was a harrowing account of first love; something that changes your life and opens your eyes to the world around you. We go through life feeding off of love from our parents, our friends, and then when we find that first someone that sets our heart aflame it is an experience unlike no other. We follow Ken Z, who is slowly figuring out who he is with the help of his mentor: Oscar Wilde.

    Through Wilde’s influence, he decides to ‘bunbury’ one day; heading to the other side of the territor

    This novel was a harrowing account of first love; something that changes your life and opens your eyes to the world around you. We go through life feeding off of love from our parents, our friends, and then when we find that first someone that sets our heart aflame it is an experience unlike no other. We follow Ken Z, who is slowly figuring out who he is with the help of his mentor: Oscar Wilde.

    Through Wilde’s influence, he decides to ‘bunbury’ one day; heading to the other side of the territory he lives in which is much nicer yet more strict. He pretends to be an archeologist on a tight budget and gets to see how the other half lives. While he’s there, he meets Ran, who sits down with him at a restaurant and talks to him about Oscar Wilde. They become fast friends despite the distance between them.

    They visit each other and their bonds deepen, with Ken Z having fantastical chats with his hero for guidance. Oscar Wilde leads him to the realization that they are more alike than they think. Ken Z and Ran fall in love fast and hard, until one day when Ran went away. It happened with no warning, no bang but a whimper. Ken Z was left grieving and started pushing away everyone in his life, including Oscar.

    By the end of the novel, Ken Z began to make amends with his friends, his favorite author, and himself. It was a touching tale with so many different types of storytelling devices, which really excited me because I love variations on traditional storytelling! We had essays, haikus, poems, lists, emails, and ‘Zaps’ (like Snapchat messages). I also loved all the little tidbits about Oscar Wilde’s life. I feel like I know him so much better now because of Ken Z.

  • Anna Sward

    The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart

    I started this book thinking it was going to be a cutesty YA book with some Oscar Wilde references. I actually almost DNF because of just how cute and happy it is for the first part. It was too much. But then tragedy hits and this books takes a much deeper road. It tackles issues of identity, LGBTQ issues, acceptance, classism, corrupt government, and the importance of heartbreak. While seamlessly weaving Oscar Wilde quotes and a modern day representation of

    The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart

    I started this book thinking it was going to be a cutesty YA book with some Oscar Wilde references. I actually almost DNF because of just how cute and happy it is for the first part. It was too much. But then tragedy hits and this books takes a much deeper road. It tackles issues of identity, LGBTQ issues, acceptance, classism, corrupt government, and the importance of heartbreak. While seamlessly weaving Oscar Wilde quotes and a modern day representation of Wilde as a character, this book pulled at my heartstrings. I will say that I found the character names distracting and was sad that something so quirky almost put me off of this book. 

    As someone who is unfamiliar with most of Wilde's work, this book was sometimes hard for me to follow. It also is incredibly heartfelt and deep at moments, but then tactlessly shallow at others. Kind of like a strange, life-questioning poetry roller coaster. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves poetry and Oscar Wilde, but also YA readers who long for a YA novel that embraces deep concepts while remaining quirky. 

  • Haley Renee The Caffeinated Reader

    3.5/5 Rounded up to 4.

    I adored this book. It was so quirky and wonderful and at the heart so very, very, Wilde-esque.

    Ken is a young man who loves Oscar Wilde, lists, Haikus, his mom and his friends. But is there more to life? His world expanded the day he meets Ran, a young man with a Dorian Gray vibe from North Kristol.

    This book is made up of Ken's thoughts, whether he's speculating with Oscar Wilde himself, writing a haiku, poem, or list, or showing us insight into his life as a high school s

    3.5/5 Rounded up to 4.

    I adored this book. It was so quirky and wonderful and at the heart so very, very, Wilde-esque.

    Ken is a young man who loves Oscar Wilde, lists, Haikus, his mom and his friends. But is there more to life? His world expanded the day he meets Ran, a young man with a Dorian Gray vibe from North Kristol.

    This book is made up of Ken's thoughts, whether he's speculating with Oscar Wilde himself, writing a haiku, poem, or list, or showing us insight into his life as a high school senior in South Kristol.

    Young love is always wonderful and painful and full of twists and turns and Ken shows us this while combining the fact that for some it's harder than for others. Not just because of orientation but because sometimes it can be hard to let someone in, and sometimes there's no closure other than what you can make yourself.

    Loved this read, definitely for fans of Oscar Wilde and speculative/introspective fiction.

    Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for the opportunity to read this in exchange for my honest review.

  • Haley Renee The Caffeinated Reader

    3.5/5 Rounded up to 4.

    I adored this book. It was so quirky and wonderful and at the heart so very, very, Wilde-esque.

    Ken is a young man who loves Oscar Wilde, lists, Haikus, his mom and his friends. But is there more to life? His world expanded the day he meets Ran, a young man with a Dorian Gray vibe from North Kristol.

    This book is made up of Ken's thoughts, whether he's speculating with Oscar Wilde himself, writing a haiku, poem, or list, or showing us insight into his life as a high school s

    3.5/5 Rounded up to 4.

    I adored this book. It was so quirky and wonderful and at the heart so very, very, Wilde-esque.

    Ken is a young man who loves Oscar Wilde, lists, Haikus, his mom and his friends. But is there more to life? His world expanded the day he meets Ran, a young man with a Dorian Gray vibe from North Kristol.

    This book is made up of Ken's thoughts, whether he's speculating with Oscar Wilde himself, writing a haiku, poem, or list, or showing us insight into his life as a high school senior in South Kristol.

    Young love is always wonderful and painful and full of twists and turns and Ken shows us this while combining the fact that for some it's harder than for others. Not just because of orientation but because sometimes it can be hard to let someone in, and sometimes there's no closure other than what you can make yourself.

    Loved this read, definitely for fans of Oscar Wilde and speculative/introspective fiction.

    Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for the opportunity to read this in exchange for my honest review.

  • yvee

    thank you to netgalley and the publisher for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

    3 stars

    I absolutely loved the writing style of this story and I think that was the only thing that I loved about it. I really wanted to like this book more since I am a HUGE Oscar Wilde fan (not as much as Ken Z but still). I loved the haikus, the vignettes, the conversations between Ken Z and Oscar, but there was something lacking in this storytelling.

    I was so frustrated with Ken Z and his friends be

    thank you to netgalley and the publisher for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

    3 stars

    I absolutely loved the writing style of this story and I think that was the only thing that I loved about it. I really wanted to like this book more since I am a HUGE Oscar Wilde fan (not as much as Ken Z but still). I loved the haikus, the vignettes, the conversations between Ken Z and Oscar, but there was something lacking in this storytelling.

    I was so frustrated with Ken Z and his friends because they didn’t even try to understand him, and he never gave them a chance to. He skipped out on one movie and suddenly it was the end of the world for them. Ugh.

    What also irked me was the way that these characters talked. It felt inauthentic and it annoyed me most of the time. Especially when Cazz used the word “r*tard*d”. I absolutely hated that. What was realistic about this book was the love story between Ran and Ken Z, especially in the setting similar to North and South Korea. I wished we would have seen more of them and see more of Ran’s point of view. I’m sure he had so much going through his head and I really wanted to pick his brain.

    While this book definitely had some negatives, I want to look at the positives.

    The Oscar Wilde references were EVERYTHING! and I thought it was so cute that they had a book club dedicated to him! The writing style again was my favorite part of this book because it kept me on my toes and it kept me reading. I was never discouraged to read and was never bored of it because of the way the author wrote this book. Not a lot of people prefer it, but I think it was a nice touch to a book dedicated to Oscar Wilde.

    All in all, a story with so much potential, but needed work :/ I’m sad that I didn’t enjoy this more, but I did enjoy it!

  • Tara Weiss

    About to waste the better part of an hour Googling the connection between Oscar Wilde and haiku, I changed my mind in favor of contemplating Ken Z's potential for becoming "Wilde at Heart." The prose story parts of this novel are pretty good; there is a lot of valid discussion of gender identity, class differences, and acceptance. While we've come so far, especially from Victorian England standards, there is more road ahead of us. But then the plot broke down into one lamenting self-imposed jail

    About to waste the better part of an hour Googling the connection between Oscar Wilde and haiku, I changed my mind in favor of contemplating Ken Z's potential for becoming "Wilde at Heart." The prose story parts of this novel are pretty good; there is a lot of valid discussion of gender identity, class differences, and acceptance. While we've come so far, especially from Victorian England standards, there is more road ahead of us. But then the plot broke down into one lamenting self-imposed jail sentence with a fictitious messaging system called Zap, too many unsent emails, and one confusing haiku after another. The story was not straightforward. As a story for the YA market, I'm not sure I have an audience for this book. It is like an ocean; tremendously deep at some points and shipwrecking shallow at the others. I think the YA audience would get lost at sea.

  • Mari Johnston

    I’m 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 choosing similar things.

    Maybe it’s because I’m not familiar with Oscar

    I’m 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 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.

    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 matter.

    The reader is also never able to get to know the characters well enough. We’re given hardly any background information and 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.

    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 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.

  • Kelly

    What I thought might be a "wrong side of the tracks" story actually had nothing to do with their classism keeping them apart. Ran just... ran. I thought that was a little disappointing. What would become a theme through this book is how it never really unpacks its many themes. The aforementioned classism, homophobia, banned books, government control over access to information, just to name a few, only really get passing mentions and rarely have much to do with the core of the story, which is Ran

    What I thought might be a "wrong side of the tracks" story actually had nothing to do with their classism keeping them apart. Ran just... ran. I thought that was a little disappointing. What would become a theme through this book is how it never really unpacks its many themes. The aforementioned classism, homophobia, banned books, government control over access to information, just to name a few, only really get passing mentions and rarely have much to do with the core of the story, which is Ran and Ken Z. It feels like this book tries to do too much in a not inconsiderable 352 pages.

    In its essence, this book is about how much it sucks to be ghosted, especially at a young age, and especially at a point in your life where you're just figuring out who you are. Ken Z never shares if he is bi or gay, or any other orientation, but he finds himself attracted to Ran, something he truly never expected. And maybe that's why Ran's disappearance hits him so hard. Ran takes all of Ken Z's options to talk about how he's feeling with him when he never returns from North Kristol. Sure, Ken Z could talk to his friends, but this is something he wanted to do with Ran, to explore with Ran, and to have that taken away and to be left behind without a word at the same time is a crushing experience.

    Other reviews are not exaggerating when they say that this book is very cutesy. The first third or so of this book rides the line of being too sugary sweet for my taste, and borders on the ridiculous. It's fun to see a young boy being infatuated for the first time, especially in a more or less "forbidden love" situation, but I also remember being a teenager and just being happy that the guy I liked put on deodorant after gym class. Also, what teenager lives a live with so incredibly little adult supervision? Outside of Mr. Oku and the occasional short appearance by Ken Z's mom, I kept wondering where all the adults were.

    I don't understand the comparison to Adam Silvera. It doesn't work. (I can't speak to the comparison to Elizabeth Acevedo, as I have not read The Poet X yet.) That's... a bold claim, and one this book fails to earn.

    Overall, this book is like a 2.5 for me. It was readable, but could have used a little more consistency in following through with discussion of its many, many themes. I would have liked to have seen Ran and Ken Z's relationship through a lens that isn't super flowery. I wish the author had dug further into Ken Z, because even by the story's end I just sort of felt "meh" about it all. I didn't feel for Ken Z the way I wanted to. I wanted to ache with him, to feel his anger and confusion, and to heal with him. Instead, I'm left underwhelmed by this work overall. I do hope it finds its fanbase, but I wanted so much more - what the story had the potential to be, what it practically begged to be - than what I got.

  • Ceillie Simkiss

    FRTC.

  • Colline Vinay Kook-Chun

    Fans of Oscar Wilde will love this novel because of all the Wilde references in the story. The main character, Ken Z, is a Wilde fan and meets another while bunburying (i.e., taking on another identity while visiting a place where you are not well-known). Ran lives on the other side of the island and has a completely different living experience to Ken Z. The relationship between the two boys is at times confusing for Ken Z. who then turns to Wilde for advice in his imagination.

    Linmark has create

    Fans of Oscar Wilde will love this novel because of all the Wilde references in the story. The main character, Ken Z, is a Wilde fan and meets another while bunburying (i.e., taking on another identity while visiting a place where you are not well-known). Ran lives on the other side of the island and has a completely different living experience to Ken Z. The relationship between the two boys is at times confusing for Ken Z. who then turns to Wilde for advice in his imagination.

    Linmark has created a world which exists on an island and is designated the North and South. The North is affluent and has many advantages including the airport, the military, free schooling, and the ability to move freely anywhere on the island. The South is poorer and is dependent on the North for many things. Even though the people in the South cannot visit the North without permission, they do enjoy more personal freedoms than those living in the North. It was interesting to make the comparison between Linmark’s created world and the society in which we live and to see how the author is subtly criticising our own world.

    Linmark also makes references to prejudices in our society against the minorities when describing CaZZ, a transgender person; as well as makings references to a racial group minority when describing the culture of Cazz’s heritage.

    The Importance of Being Wilde At Heart is a novel which does refer to many important social issues as well as LGBT ones. Linmark creates a world that mirrors our own – even in terms of social media and the manner in which teens interact. I did, however, find the novel to be a slow read. The chapters are broken up with images of text messages or references from Wilde’s work. These interruptions, while interesting, did not help increase the pacing of the novel.

    This novel is not one of my favourites and, for me, it was an okay read.

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