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.
This showed up in my recommendations after reading a Jordan L. Hawk book, I think. They don’t really have anything in common except a first name and that they write m/m romances– also Meatworks is, if anything, a dystopian-ish1 scifi book set in an alternate universe where robotics evolved faster than anything else. So, like, people have robot limbs! But no smart phones.
Meatworks reminded those really gritty late 1980s punk novels, the kind where you’re not entirely sure whether the protagonist is going to be okay at the end or not. Everyone’s kind of dirty and they make a lot of mistakes and they probably wear a lot of leather and ripped jeans and whatnot. It’s atmospheric! Plus Desmond is a total crust punk, so it works.
But what I really liked was that it’s not just about Desmond coming to terms with his robot arm. It’s not even just a romance! It’s really about the slow, difficult journey of moving forward from traumatic experiences. Desmond’s character development is excellently written, so much so that even when he was being a total dodo-head I still rooted for him to get his happy ending.
The romance was slightly less awesome, if only because Desmond spends half the book mooning over his old boyfriend while trying to date a new one and it’s very uncomfortable. Mostly I felt like I couldn’t get invested in Desmond-and-Corey when Desmond might dump him at any moment to get back with old!boyfriend, and that stunk. I felt terrible for Corey, I was angry at Desmond, and I thought old!boyfriend was seriously unprofessional– he became Desmond’s social worker! It was after they broke up, but I mean. C’mon, dude. The whole situation was a huge mess.
However, Desmond DOES move on,2 and doing so ties into healing from his trauma. Working on one helps with the other, which is great! Plus Desmond realizes that he’s being a crappy friend/boyfriend and by the end he tries to do better and commit himself fully to Corey. Yay!
Plus, once he starts getting better, Desmond actually turns out to be a total sweetheart. See: this quote from around 68% re:Corey:
The last thing he needed was someone who wasn’t one hundred percent invested in him, and if I wasn’t willing to be that guy, than I was even more of a moron than I thought.
He gets it! Yay!
New!boyfriend Corey is pretty cute, too, and I definitely want to see what happens to them next. Fingers crossed for a sequel!
Read: July 1-2, 2015