REVIEW: How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis


J.C. Lillis. Loose Id. September 21th 2012

Eighteen-year-old Castaway Planet fans Brandon and Abel hate bad fan fiction—especially when it pairs their number-one TV crushes of all time, dashing space captain Cadmus and dapper android Sim. As co-runners of the Internet’s third most popular Castaway Planet vlog, they love to spar with the “Cadsim” fangirls who think Cadmus will melt Sim’s mechanical heart by the Season 5 finale. This summer, Brandon and Abel have a mission: hit the road in an RV to follow the traveling Castaway Planet convention, interview the actors and showrunner, and uncover proof that a legit Cadsim romance will NEVER, EVER HAPPEN.

A Brandon and Abel romance: also not happening. Brandon’s sick of his struggle to make “gay and Catholic” compute, so it’s safer to love a TV android. Plus Abel’s got a hot new boyfriend with a phoenix tattoo, and how can Brandon compete with that? But when mysterious messages about them start popping up in the fan community, they make a shocking discovery that slowly forces their real feelings to the surface. Before they get to the last Castaway Planet convention, Brandon’s going to find out the truth: can a mechanical heart be reprogrammed, or will his first shot at love be a full system failure?


So I have finally read this book. I’m actually quite embarassed knowing that I had put off reading this book for months just because I was thrown off from all the nerdish talk on the first page. Until I saw a review on Goodreads yesterday and took the plunge. Thank goodness I did.

So here’s what it was about. Brandon, sweet neurotic Brandon, who was torn between his own need as a person and his fear of God as a part of the devoted little community.

I see myself in Brandon. And no, I’m nowhere near a gay 18 year old guy. But I feel for his inner turmoil over his religion, as I was raised as a Catholic too. I know there are just some things that no matter how ridiculous you think they are, the way it’s been ingrained in your brain that it’s bad would always be there. The feeling that I’ve sinned and the fear that God is actually not all rainbows and spouting forgiveness and ends up condemning you to eternal hell.

I too get the extra anxiety over talking to other people. I get the urge to lie about yourself just to paint yourself less boring and pathetic. I was there with Brandon in every single page. And I totally get the need to be a part of a community or fandom. And as an avid fanfic reader and writer, reading a book where the characters read, write and act out their own fanfics? EPIC.

“Well, who doesn’t love a good mpreg?”
“A what?”
“Sim gets man-pregnant? Gives birth to twins during a tornado?”
“I’ll pretend I never heard that.”
“Here, I’ll read you the wedding one -”

And Abel ❤ I love him.

“Abel snores pornographically, like a prince sleeping off an orgy.”

Nuff said.

I love the writings and metaphors in it. Just so brilliantly smart and perfect. How similar Abel is to the persona that Brandon had created. The hang ups. It is one of the best Coming Out story yet, because you can exactly feel the struggle in Bran’s had.




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