Read Worm by Wildbow

by Alison Xin

Worm is a story about superpowers that breaks the typical “superhero” mold rather violently. Wildbow (John McCrae, author) brings a torrent new concepts to the table, with some of the most creative powers and compelling story elements I’ve ever seen.

Taylor Hebert is the lovely protagonists of our little 1.65-million-word story who has the power to control bugs and simple arthropods. Not just a couple dozen or hundred bugs, but literally all the bugs within a 3 block radius. If you still think that sounds useless and weak as a power, you should really read the story. (If you have arachnophobia, you should maybe not read the story.)

Everything starts out pretty slow, but if there’s one way to describe Worm, it’s escalation. The stakes are raised continuously and conflicts are messy and realistic. Also, despite the slightly ridiculous and simple title, Worm is probably the darkest fiction I’ve ever read. Typical assumptions that our “heroic protagonists will always win” are, sadly, very, very, false.  Forget the typical young adult teenage fantasy-fulfillment, Worm is going to take your feelings and stomp on them. Tired of plot lines where the protagonists is a “speshul snowflake” who can’t lose any confrontation and is a generically attractive self-insert with the characterization of a Lego brick? Worm is the story for you.

That being said, Worm is still flawed. It started as a sort of pet project for Wildbow, so certain characterizations and plot elements are unnecessarily convoluted or confusing. There’s also issues with unnecessary monologues that many action-oriented plot lines tend to fall into. That being said, excellent character interaction and conflict push the story forward at a satisfying pace, nearly overshadowing these points.

Also, it should be noted that Worm is not for sensitive readers. It covers most “trigger warning” topics, including but not limited to: mental/physical abuse, bullying, isolation, depression, discrimination, off-screen explicit situations, graphic violence, and strong language. There’s also quite a bit of Nightmare Fuel, if you’re on the lookout for that. I do not want to held accountable for someone reading Worm on my recommendation and encountering material they may find untasteful (though I’m of the opinion that these dark elements add a certain amount of depth and weight to the plot).

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