Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
(Sorry for the big, not great cover image. Oddly this cover doesn't exist much online in a reasonable size.)
When I saw the cover of this book, I didn't want to read it.
When I saw a summary of the book (about a boy who slowly turns into a worm), I really did not want to read it.
However, I kept running into reviews of it, and they kept including lines like "Even if you don't think you'd like this book, you should read it! It's good!", so eventually I gave in and bought a copy. Then it sat and sat and sat in my to read pile, sinking lower and lower each time I bought new books.
Now and then, when picking a new book to read, I go to the very bottom of my pile and pick something from there -- if I didn't, I'd never read those oldest books. Finally it was time to read Wuftoom...
While ebook readers like to start you on the first page of the story, I always go to the cover and start there. I like reading the "front matter" -- all that stuff before the story. The copyright info, the dedications, etc. In the middle of that front matter, I spotted the book's classification: Horror. Ugh! I never read horror! I don't like horror! (I know, I know, how can a book about a boy turning into a worm not be horror? I thought it would be more fantasy-ish.) But I owned the book, so I was going to give it a try.
Know what? It was actually darned good! The horror was subtle (and I think, because I'm older than the target audience for YA books, I saw it differently).
The first third of the book was about a boy trapped in bed, sick with some unknown disease that was changing his body. The reader spends months with him as he loses use of his fingers, then his limbs. As his body gets covered with a membrane. As his vision changes, his whole body changes... all except his mind. He's a boy trapped in a body that's turning into a giant worm.
But, for me, the real horror came through his mother. She had to work a horrible, dead-end job so she'd have insurance to pay for all the doctors trying to cure him. Her boss was awful, her hours were long, and the work was draining her soul. Then, in the last stages, when her son was 'dying', her boss was late to come in and cover for her, forcing her to stay at work while she knew her son was home alone, dying. To me, that was more painful to read about than the boy who was turning into a worm.
The first third of the book, about his transformation, was the best part. What happens after that would spoil things for you, so read only if you don't intend to pick up this book.
[Plot details back here.]
So turns out there is a whole second world on this planet, a Dark world full of Dark creatures. The giant worm the boy was turning into, Wuftoom, was one of those races. They get new member by infecting humans.
The main part of the plot was the struggle between two races, the Wuftoom and the Vic (short for something, I don't recall what and I don't have the book in front of me), a dark dragonfly? fly?-like race.
This part of the book worked a lot less well for me than the first third, and dragged in a few sections. I guess I just didn't believe all the Dark races of creatures, not after how realistic the first third of the book was. /end spoilers
Add onto an outstanding first third of the book, the author's writing was very, very good. It seems like fewer and fewer authors are able to craft wonderful sentences and pick just the exactly perfect wording for things.
All in all, I enjoyed Wuftoom. It wasn't 100% perfect 'BEST BOOK EVER!' level for me, but so few books are. It was really good, especially the first third of it (I still feel icky in my stomach about parts of it). There was zero romance in the book (so rare for YA stuff!), and it was just so original and different. Plus, while it ended open enough to allow for further books, Wuftoom stands alone as a self-contained story as well -- too few YA books do that nowadays.