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Meatworks - Jordan Castillo Price Rating: 2.5 stars

So Desmond Pool is a 33 year old man who’s living with his newly acquired robotic arm after a near death experience months back. He’s pretty much bumming off of disability benefits and trying to avoid the requirements set forth by his ex-boyfriend/current social worker. Unfortunately for Desmond, there’s only so much he can avoid before his monthly disability check is cut off. And during one of his support group meeting, he meets a young man named Corey – a three year veteran and expert wielder with his robotic arm. The robotic arm that Desmond himself has refused to learn how to use.

Apparently, there’s debate whether or not this book should be considered a romance. In my opinion, there is romance, though it plays second fiddle to the whole “self-discovery” component to Meatworks. And in my further opinion, the book would have been a whole lot better if it didn’t even have that iota of romance. But more into that later…

So what was good about Meatworks? Even though Desmond wasn’t my idea of a great character, the author does a good job of making him a compelling one. He’s not a nice guy, but he’s certainly someone who eventually learns to face his fears. He comes off as sarcastic a bit of a jerk at times, but he doesn’t lay it too thick to the point of me disliking his personality.

The world building was also nicely done. It’s one that’s similar to our own (even making references to current pop culture), but with its own robotic twist. Desmond’s comments about the changes in robotics within the past decade is something I see myself assessing as well in our own world, which makes it all the more believable and Desmond someone we can all connect with (I mean, some kids get tablets from their school! And I certainly didn’t have a smart phone to play with as a kid when I was bored sitting at a restaurant with my family. Kids are so lucky these days. Just like the kids in this book)

Fortunately, I rarely ever read a book where a character I actually like ends up with someone I actually hate. Unfortunately, it happens with Meatworks. And let me say that I absolutely hate Corey, though as a disclaimer, I’m probably more biased than most for the reasoning. I’ve had exposure to working in an environment where people take advantage of a system meant to help others for their own selfish greed and laziness. I also currently work in a facility where such a thing happens, and Corey is a reminder of someone who does just that. He’s a young man (in his early twenties), who spends his time BUMMING it at home, doing absolutely NOTHING. He’s an expert with his robotic arm and is more than capable of going back to the work force. Instead, he milks and works the disability system so he doesn’t have to work, but still gets a paycheck every month. He even questions Desmond’s choice to go back to work at one point, which rubbed me completely the wrong way. And yet for some reason, Desmond is all heart eyes for this young man? A young man, who in my own eyes does nothing but throws tantrums and is a lazy bum, is the love interest to our main character? Puhleeeze. I would have prefer if there was absolutely no love interest here or that Desmond ended up back with his ex (though he did do some petty things himself, but at least he didn’t remind me of a ten year old refusing to do his chores).

My dislike of Corey was enough to make me skip all sex scenes and scenes of intimacy between the two towards the later half of the book. Without the romance, Meatworks is more of a self-discovery book where Desmond realizes the things he has to change in his life to get it back on track. This focus of the novel wasn’t bad, though there was one plot point that confused me in terms of its overall significance (I won’t mention it as it’s probably considered a spoiler to most).
But overall, I can’t say I enjoyed this novel. While I understand that Desmond has made many bad choices in his past, his relationship to Corey was something I couldn’t overlook and enjoy. However, I am probably in the minority with this opinion and advise readers to seek other reviews before deciding if this book is for you.