What’s the longest book you can think of? The Bible? Lord of the Rings? Sprawling worlds and books are often a sign of poor editing but the longest I’ve ever read is called Worm and at around 1.7 million words is huge. Spoiler alert – it’s also great.

“An introverted teenage girl with an unconventional superpower, Taylor goes out in costume to find escape from a deeply unhappy and frustrated civilian life. Her first attempt at taking down a supervillain sees her mistaken for one, thrusting her into the midst of the local ‘cape’ scene’s politics, unwritten rules, and ambiguous morals. As she risks life and limb, Taylor faces the dilemma of having to do the wrong things for the right reasons.

Readers should be cautioned that Worm is fairly dark as fiction goes, and it gets far darker as the story progresses.  Morality isn’t black and white, Taylor and her acquaintances aren’t invincible, the heroes aren’t winning the war between right and wrong, and superpowers haven’t necessarily affected society for the better.  Just the opposite on every count, really.  Even on a more fundamental level, Taylor’s day to day life is unhappy, with her clinging to the end of her rope from the story’s outset.  The denizens of the Wormverse (as readers have termed it) don’t pull punches, and I try to avoid doing so myself, as a writer.  There’s graphic language, descriptions of violence and sex does happen (albeit offscreen).  It would be easier to note the trigger warnings that don’t apply than all the ones that do.”

WildBow creates a world where anyone can get superpowers – but only if they get into a sufficiently traumatic situation. As you might expect giving a lot of traumatized people powers is unlikely to end well and it generally doesn’t. The story is mainly written from the point of view of Taylor who, after extreme bullying, gets the power to control insects. She bounces from event to event while she tries to focus on what’s important to her and keep her head above water.

Product Information

Retailer: Worm Blog +

Price: Free, but there is a Patreon and Paypal donate available if you want to contribute.

About WildBow /  J.C. McCrae

Wildbow – or J.C. McCrae in real life is the Author of Worm. He’s an English Major in Canada who took a break from university to write Worm. It and McCrae’s other novels have gotten popular enough to support McCrae and so the break has become rather longer than expected.

Design

Worm follows the format of around 12 chapter arcs from main character Taylor’s point of view interspersed with short interludes that tell the backstory or point of view of another character. Each of these arcs comes together to form a wider story which is usually based around a particular event.

Trigger warning

triggers 100

 

Worm is not a story for children and managed to hit every single trigger warning we have listed.

Cost-Effective

Worm is available for free through WildBow’s website. He is looking to monetize it in the longer term so is discouraging converting it to full ebooks. I have found that the simplest solution if you’re not someone who reads on their screen happily is to use Pocket to synchronise individual pages to an e-reader or your phone.

Specification

Written by: Wildbow, J.C. McCrae
Length: 1,680,000 words
Language: English

Verdict

Worm is a book that’s got a a lot of barriers to entry. The length, less than ideal reading environment and trigger heavy adult themes will put many off. It sat in my “To Read” list for a long time because of this and I wish I’d gotten to it sooner. If you progress through the access issues and like superhero fantasy, then Worm will be worth the effort. It is among the best books and universes I’ve ever read.

Ergohacks Essential

The review is based on the version online in August 2016. This article was first published on 23rd September 2016 and last updated on 14 November 2016.