cover image The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart

The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart

R. Zamora Linmark. Delacorte, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-101-93821-8

Ken Z, 17, lives in the fictional Pacific Island country of South Kristol, which is a developing nation under the thumb of militaristic, wealthy neighbor North Kristol. When Ken Z visits an upscale shopping mall to see how the other half lives, he meets Ran, a boy from across the northern border, and over the course of a few weeks, experiences his first kiss, first love, and then his first heartbreak after Ran ends their budding relationship by vanishing without a word. Linmark’s YA debut, told in a smattering of literary styles (prose, haiku, lists that are half poetry, and imaginary conversations with Ken Z’s literary hero, Oscar Wilde), conveys a universal story, but it becomes bogged down in its own obsession with language, with pretty turns of phrase taking priority over plot. While the merger of narrative and poetry isn’t wholly successful at creating a believable emotional core, the narrative element, in particular, falls short, with dialogue that feels stiff and scripted. Older readers might find this story familiar, but younger teens especially might appreciate an artistic fantasy of first young love. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Kirby Kim, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Aug.) [/em]