Desmond Poole is damaged in more ways than one. If he was an underachiever before, he’s entirely useless now that he’s lost his right hand. He spends his time drowning his sorrows in vodka while he deliberately blows off the training that would help him master his new prosthetic. Social Services seems determined to try and stop him from wallowing in his own filth, so he’s forced to attend an amputee support group. He expects nothing more than stale cookies, tepid decaf and a bunch of self-pitying sob stories, so he’s blindsided when a fellow amputee catches his eye.
Corey Steiner is a hot young rudeboy who works his robotic limb like an extension of his own body, and he’s smitten by Desmond’s crusty punk rock charm from the get-go. Unfortunately, Desmond hasn’t quite severed ties with his ex-boyfriend, and Corey isn’t known for his maturity or patience.
Meatworks is set in a bleak near-future where cell phone and personal computer technologies never developed. In their place, robotics flourished. Now robots run everything from cars to coffee pots. Taking the guesswork out of menial tasks was intended to create leisure time, but instead robots have made society dependent and passive.
Desmond loathes robots and goes out of his way to avoid them. But can he survive without the robotic arm strapped to the end of his stump?
Wow. Just wow. Once I started reading Meatworks, I couldn’t put it down. That’s not to say the novel was always comfortable. There were times when I felt like I was watching a speeding train headed for the edge of a cliff. But dang, it was worth the ride. Let me just start by saying this is not a romance. If you are a reader who likes weddings and puppies, you’ll have to look for them somewhere else. The closest you’ll get here are some re-hydrated sea monkeys.
Desmond Poole is a beautifully written anti-hero. More than just flawed, this guy is a hot mess! While he’s not the most likeable character I’ve ever read, his vulnerability really shines through--even when he doesn’t want anyone to see it, or admit it to himself. I do believe this is the first science fiction novel I’ve read where the main character is a total Luddite when it comes to technology, and that was one of Desmond’s most endearing traits. He lost his dominant hand, and has a robotic prosthetic that, because of his aversion to robotics, he doesn’t know how to use. But just when you start to feel sorry for him, he does something completely despicable.
The supporting cast isn’t much better. Corey is a hot little guy Desmond meets at the amputee support group. He’s fun and a bit wild, but also moody and immature. Then there is Desmond’s ex-boyfriend, Jim, who on the surface appears to be a well-adjusted, productive member of society, but under his veneer is just as flawed as the others. While Desmond and Jim broke up before the accident, Jim, a social worker, has made it his do-gooder mission of the year to “help” Desmond and assuage some of his residual guilt from the break-up. I know this sounds like the makings of a love-triangle, but really, it’s nothing that sappy. Like I said, this is not a romance. Even if there is some boy drama and a couple hot sex scenes.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the quality of the writing. Jordan Castillo-Price writes prose the way some writing poetry, each sentence carefully constructed for maximum impact. Her setting details were so gritty, I could see the story like a film in my head. She also used action to convey character brilliantly. My favorite example of this is the hamburger wrapper. Each day, Desmond stops by a burger joint and eats the sandwich on the way home. He then tosses the greasy wrapped over his neighbor’s fence, so his lawn-bot will have to come out to clean it up. This small action of tossing the wrapped in his neighbor’s yard says so much about Desmond’s contempt for the robotic helpers as well as for other people.
Meatworks is a dark and gritty story that sucked me right in. Desmond is the perfect anti-hero, masking his vulnerability in a tough façade, ten inches thick. His bent toward self-destruction is, at times, disturbing, but you won’t want to put this book down.
Overall, I give Meatworks...
Plot - 5 bookmarks
Character development - 5 bookmarks
Writing quality - 5 bookmarks
Love story - PSYCH!!!! How many times do I have to tell you this is not a romance?
Dream cast (Otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - A really punked out and dirty Channing Tatum (Desmond), Jake Bass (Corey), William Levy (Jim), Cate Blanchett (Pam)
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