I’m a 23 year old graduate student, and reading is my favorite hobby. I love how a really good story can change the way I look at things. I also love talking with people about reading, hearing their opinions, getting recommendations, and giving some in turn. My favorite messages from the listserve have been reading recommendations. When I get exposed to something outside of what I’m used to it’s like getting to see from another person’s eyes. In that vein I’d like to give you all a recommendation for something a bit off the beaten path.
A few months back I stumbled across a web serial (like a book but published online a chapter at a time) called Worm. It’s long, about as many words as the complete Song of Ice and Fire series so far. I found it during an incredibly busy time what with life, research, and finals.
I read the whole thing in three weeks.
I read quite a bit in 2015, including many Hugo and Pulitzer prize winners. Worm was without a doubt my favorite read of the year.
Plot Summary from the website: “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.”
While Taylor is a teen and the first few chapters focus on issues she’s having at school this is in no way a work about a teenage hero who has to balance high school against their superhero life. It is instead an answer to the question “What would it be like in the real world if superheroes started appearing?”. There aren’t any pure paragons of virtue or mustachio twirling villains here. Every aspect of the world is carefully considered and every action has consequences.
One of my favorite things about the series is how smart the characters and plotting feel. Fights aren’t won on brute force alone and people very rarely play fair (Taylor especially). As the story progresses the stakes keep rising higher and higher, but there aren’t any cop outs or magical resolutions to problems. The story strikes a nice balance between progressing logically and having enough surprises to keep you guessing what will happen next.
A warning: this series is addictive and many chapters end on cliffhangers, making it difficult to put down. I pulled more than a few late nights while reading it. If you’re in the middle of a busy period it may be best to wait on picking this up.
It’s available in its entirety for free. Just google ‘worm parahumans’ and the first result should be the wordpress site where it was published. There’s also a free unabridged fan made audiobook, just google ‘worm audiobook’.
I hope some of you get as much out of this series as I have. If you want to talk about it with me feel free to email. There’s also an active community over on Reddit at r/Parahumans. Shoutouts to them for giving me advice on how to properly explain the sprawling epic that is Worm.
Finally, if you have any unusual recommendations for books that meant a lot to you I’d love to hear them!