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


“I am one man with a laptop. When I give the world my characters, it’s because I don’t want to keep them for myself. You don’t like what I made them do? Fucking tell me I’m wrong! Rewrite the story. Throw in a new plot twist. Make up your own ending.”

Title: How to Repair a Mechanical Heart
Author: J.C. Lillis
Why you should read this book: Because it is sweet and it makes you frustrated, in a good way, though.

Summary from Goodreads:

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?

“You can’t stay fucked up forever, can you? You need to start putting yourself out there and getting humiliated like the rest of us. Only then will you be a Real Boy”

Now, who will repair MY mechanical heart?? This was brilliant, heartwarming, frustrating, just perfect.

“I wind up my mechanical heart and open his door.”

Brandon is hunted by Father Mike’s words about how to be a good christian, how loving boys instead of girls is not what God wants. Brandon is torn between what he wants and what he needs to do in order to make his parents happy. Brandon can’t change who he is so he kind of decided he isn’t going to love and he prefers to turn himself into an android and reprogrammed himself to not feel, not think, not live.

Abel is his friend and together they run a vlog about their favorite sci-fi tv show Castaway Planet. They have each a crush on the main characters, Abel loves Captain Cadmus and Brandon loves his android friend, Sim. What they don’t love? Cadsim shippers. They are positive a romance between the two of them is impossibile but it seems that after a famous “cave scene” the fangirls are taking this ship to another level and they can’t take it anymore.

“I’ve never seen a naked torso that wasn’t on a cross, at least not so close up. I don’t know where to look. His belly button. Belly button. Look at the belly button. 

So what to do? Simple, Abel, Brandon and Brandon’s best friend Bec decided to follow the Castaway Planet convention tour asking the infamous “did they do it or didn’t they?” to the actors and show runners. They made a bet with the Cadsim shippers: if the answer is NO, the shippers will have to put a disclaimer before every fanfic saying the ship is not canon, and if the answer is YES, Abel and Brandon will have to reenact a scene of one of their fanfics, a steamy one if possible. This is going to be interesting.

What they don’t know is that along the way they will not only have the answer to that infamous question but they will learn more about themselves and about a certain hater that reveals itself to be totally different than they believed. Who would’ve thought?? I didn’t expect that to happen and it had me laughing so hard my face paralyzed in a weird grin that may or may have not scared a few people.


Abel is a silver-haired loud and funny boy, he says what he thinks but he is very fragile and it’s scared of being hurt. He is not afraid to cry and show his emotions. I love that about him, he may have been a little bit rushed in a decision but I understood why he did it, you could feel his pain, the fact that he wanted to avoid being heartbroken all over again. Brandon is trying to live his life but he feels something for Abel, something he can’t tell him, not only because of Father Mike’s “Put on the brakes” words but also because Abel has a boyfriend (with a chicken tattoo…sorry, phoenix) at the moment and he thinks he will never be interested in him. Oh boy, were you wrong, did you see what I see? How he looked at you? Are you blind? Abel is such a sweet guy, I love him!

“You want a med student with perfect hair and a wine cellar. ‘Ooh, look at us! We’re pre-engaged! He gave me his promise ring and someday we’ll get married and adopt an orphan from Zimbabwe and name him Aiden!”

Romance wasn’t really the main theme of the book (even if it was extremely important to the development of both the main characters), it was more about Brandon finding the strength to be who he is without guilt, without the little voices in his head telling him what to do. He has to think for himself, embrace the difficulties along the way and be honest with the one person he can be himself with. His parents were harsh, he came out, they forced, brainwashed him, into thinking it wasn’t what God wanted, that he could change the way he felt because God wanted him differently. They didn’t put themselves in his shoes, they didn’t see how much they were damaging him inside. He is conflicted, he doesn’t want God to hate him but he also doesn’t want to change who he is, he can’t. Can you believe her mom changed channels because the show was showing a half naked man?? And his father panicking when the remote control broke so the tv stop while it was showing Dancing with the Stars? What’s wrong with people??? This makes me so mad, like really mad! I have expressed my feelings about this in other books reviews with similar themes and no matter how much I read about it, it still makes me feel as mad as the first time.

 Status: Naked. On bed. With boy. Systems overheating. Sudden doubts multiplying. Meltdown imminent. 

Your son likes boys, so what? Is he any different from what he was before? Is he a criminal? Is he going around naked singing in the rain? No, he is exactly what he was before, nothing changed, they only thing that “changed” is that now you know another think about your son, a thing that was always there but you didn’t know about. I really don’t get it, for me it’s really simple, there is nothing to accept, nothing to tolerate, nothing to hide from people because you are afraid to be judged. It’s love pure and simple, love with obstacles, love with doubts, love with new discoveries and adventures. Love is love, no matter who is experiencing it.
The ending was PERFECT even if I wanted to know more. Abel and Brandon, Bec and the irony of her convention conquest, and the famous Church of Abandon will be missed. The hilarious fangirls will be missed, their posts OMG, that is exactly what is going on in my head when I read something about one of my million ships! They are one of us! “Cheers. Decibel level: new pope at balcony.”

“No one told me what doubt was like. To know how much I still don’t know.”

Do I recommend it? Of course, 500% yes, I still feel the need to break something.
Rate: 5/5


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