I am not the biggest Sci Fi fan in the world, but I am falling in love with Jordan Castillo Price’s work. This is only the third of her books that I have read, and I am on my way to becoming a complete devotee.
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Jordan Castillo Price
Rating: 5.0 of 5 Stars
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?
Meatworks takes place in Buffalo, NY, in a near-future that is not so different from our own. Except robots are in charge of handling every day functions for people, like how they drive, answer the phone, listen to music – and of documenting their every move. Desmond isn’t happy with robotics and their constant intrusion, which is problematic. His right hand is robotic. In order to maintain his low level of existence within the confines of his grubby apartment and the nearest bottle of vodka, he must keep the social services checks coming in. That means showing up at the mandatory amputee support group, where he meets brash young Corey. Instant attraction evolves into a stumbling, bumbling kind of relationship that Desmond seems determined to sabotage. A sort-of ex-boyfriend and possible robophobia are only minor issues compared to the larger picture of himself that Desmond must face in order to find a modicum of happiness in a world moving ahead without him.
Jordan Castillo Price’s talent for writing main characters that are flawed, unusual, and engaging continually impresses me. Desmond is not your typical dashing romantic hero. He is a hot mess who excels at creating more hot messes in his life. His first person narrative is acerbic and intriguing, punctuated with dark humor and cynicism. He is a graceless, wallowing jerk and a self-proclaimed a**hole, and I loved him – as a wonderfully crafted character. I rooted for him as he rebelled against bot-ism (no housebot, carbot, or coffeebot) and cringed as nearly every social situation into which he staggered ended up in shambles. Then, my heart ached as revelations surfaced, the puzzle pieces of Desmond’s past appearing and snapping together to create a much clearer picture of what drove him, frightened him, and broke him. As I turned each page, I found myself laughing, tearing up, and clinging to the belief that somehow Desmond would be able to make peace with himself in order to make peace with the world around him.
I admire Ms. Price’s skill at creating dystopian science fiction that is entertaining as well as thought provoking. What could easily be a maudlin and depressing subject is instead made captivating through writing that is edgy, honest, and compelling. Desmond’s sardonic voice ranges from comical to agonizing as he struggles to adapt to the changes that occur around him and within his relationships. Layered with intriguing little mysteries to be solved and quirky, unique characters (How did Desmond lose his hand, and what is up with this Ken Roman guy?), Meatworks grabbed me from the beginning and compelled me to discover the answer to the biggest questions of all: Who is Desmond Poole and how will he not just survive but also thrive in a world in which he feels excluded and a misfit?
Meatworks was an exceptional read. I appreciated the subtle use of the science fiction of robotics to create a gritty, fascinating character study. The dialogue is sharp and genuine, and main and secondary characters are vividly drawn and authentic. I was particularly impressed with Corey, whose impulsiveness and vulnerability I found endearing, his intimacy and conflicts with Desmond raw and powerful. This is not a sweet, gentle romance. It is a coarse, rocky, booze-laden journey filled with sea monkeys and punk/alternative tunes, and I enjoyed every odd, unpredictable minute of it. So much so that it is waiting on my re-read pile, waiting for me to jump back on the deviation train for another ride.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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