Monday, February 9, 2015

NILES WORMWART: ACCIDENTAL VILLAIN by D.M. Cunningham (Review by Michael Gettel-Gilmartin)

Niles Wormwart: Accidental Villain by D.M. Cunningham (Spencer Hill Middle Grade Press, November 2014)

What It's About (from Goodreads): 
In the science fair world of ketchup-spewing volcanoes and potato clocks, one boy, Niles Wormwart, plans to alter the history of science fairs with his time travel wristwatch based on Nicola Tesla's work. Unfortunately, history has different plans for Niles.

After Niles blows up his school's science wing with his project, his father, deciding his son needs to make some friends, and take a break from his constant experiments, sends unsuspecting Niles off to the mysterious Camp Mayhem. The only problem is that Niles' father thinks it's a role-playing camp. Well, it's not. Headed up by the ominous Red Czechmark, Camp Mayhem is ground zero for training the future villains of today. 

There's a sinister plot brewing, and Niles is dead in the middle of it. Thrust into a world he only thought existed in comic books. Niles discovers his true potential inside the walls of Camp Mayhem--the potential to become the darkest of evils or stay true to his good-hearted roots.

Opening Lines: “HOLD ON ONE SECOND. YOU’LL HAVE TO START FROM THE beginning. The tape wasn’t rolling.” Officer Dandy’s swollen-knuckled hand fidgeted with the tape recorder." (From Chapter Zero)

My take:

Well, if you write on a blog called Project Mayhem, you've got to love a novel set at Camp Mayhem! D.M. Cunningham's NILES WORMWART: ACCIDENTAL VILLAIN is a roller coaster of a ride through fun--and very funny--situations, with some top-notch villains to boot. Niles himself is a likable guy, who overcomes his feelings of inadequacy to come up trumps in the end.

I particularly resonated with D.M. Cunningham's style--or "voice," as they say in the trade. There really is never a dull moment in this book.

I'll give you an example of what I mean: Niles is trying out his Tesla watches at villain camp when the watches explode and lightning hits one of the oxen grazing nearby. Here's the result:
(The ox) "exploded like an overfilled pimple containing pizza sauce. Guts and hoofs sprayed fifty yards in every direction. Singed jerky hit the ground next to us with a wet slap."

Great, visceral writing--right up this middle grade mayhemmer's alley.

If you want a fun and fast read, look no further than Niles Wormwart as he battles Dark Matter!

(Spencer Hill Middle Grade Press also published Mayhemmer Kell Andrew's DEADWOOD, so we know thay have great taste!)

Here's an interview I found with D.M. Cunningham. He's a hoot!
Interview with D.M. Cunningham on Jennifer Allis Provost's blog

About the AuthorD.M. Cunningham is a film and television writer, director and producer who has worked with several of Hollywood's top production companies such as Disney, MTV, NBC, History Channel, Cartoon Network, and Lions Gate. His short stories can be found in Stories For Children, Underneath the Juniper Tree, and Crow Toes Quarterly. He is a writer and columnist for Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine where he interviews the top talent in the horror and science fiction industries.

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  1. Sounds like a fun read. I can see boys as well as girls really liking this.

  2. I agree with Natalie! It sounds like a great book for kids -- funny and action-packed.

  3. Michael, this sounds like a blast! Am laughing so hard as I love this visual writing: "exploded like an overfilled pimple containing pizza sauce. Guts and hoofs sprayed fifty yards in every direction. Singed jerky hit the ground next to us with a wet slap." Eww and cool all at the same time! Will have to check out this other "mayhem".

  4. I bought two copies, one for myself, and it was a treat! I just sent the other to my granddaughter, I think she will enjoy it a great deal. After reading mine, I donated it to my local library, I believe both boys and girls will enjoy it equally. I loved the voices of the characters and the author's wit with names and places, really? "Red Czechmark??!" is so fun!

  5. Bought two copies for our local library, and three for my grandkids school library. Already making fans!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!