Book Review

An Ode To Fandom — How To Repair A Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis {Book Review}

how-to-repair-a-mechanical-heart-by-j-c-lillisTitle: How To Repair A Mechanical Heart
Author: J.C. Lillis
Release Date:  September 21st, 2012
Standalone/Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Goodreads link

My rating in stars: 4,5 stars
My rating in words: I loved it!

What it’s about:

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?

My thoughts (Spoiler-free):

“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.”

How To Repair A Mechanical Heart was such a heart-warming and hilarious look into fandom life. I consider myself a fangirl as well. I dabble in multiple fandoms. I get obsessed with stories and characters I love. I squeel. I use excessive CAPSLOCK. I’m a major shipper. I’ve read so many fanfic and I browse Pinterest for fanart on a regular basis. And this book is like an ode to the wonder that is fandom in all its’ aspects.

So can I just quote the fangirls in this book to express my love? I think I couldn’t express it any better!

“omg you guys. I CAN’T EVEN.”

“They are flawless. That is all.”


Yep. Also, I kind of wish Castaway Planet was real because I so want to join the fandom!

The romance aspect was also pretty perfect. I loved that even though it’s a light and fluffy book, it also tackles some heavier issues and the characters are not without their flaws, which of course impacts the romance. Brandon is dealing with a ton of Catholic guilt. He grew up in a tight and loving Catholic community and is now trying to figure out how to be both Catholic and gay. Abel is out and proud but has his own traumas with dating Catholic boys. So obviously they have quite some issues to overcome but it’s all handled so perfectly. No fingerpointing, no villains, just two boys coming to terms with their feelings and overcoming their issues. While the fandom world is watching.

Needless to say, I loved this book. It’s funny, it’s quirky, it’s unapologetically fangirly. It has so much heart. And it’s basically one big roadtrip. What’s not to love?

Favorite quotes:

“And when you’re a weird and awkward and paranoid person at all times, CastieCon is the happiest place on the planet.
It’s like, a baseline level of freakiness is expected here, right? So unless you’re disemboweling goats in the vendor hall, no one gives a damn who you are or what you’re doing.”

“I can tell I’m being annoying, the kind of annoying where it feels like I haven’t showered for days and everyone should just stay away.”

“Entering the ball is like crashing on a planet where no one cares how you dress or how you dance or who you love.”

“I want to make a sweater out of this week and wrap myself up in it until it falls apart.”

Have you read How To Repair A Mechanical Heart? What did you think about it?


  1. YA totally agree! I am myself a part of so many fandoms, and I have read so many fanfics I CANNOT EVEN COUNT. (I have even written 2-3. Hehe) Also, have you read Gena/Finn? It is about two women who spark a friendship over a fandom BUT THAT ENDING MADE ME LIKE IT A LOT LESS THAN I EXPECTED. Anyways, my LIFE IS SPENT on Pinterest. God, I am addicted.

    1. Oh I hadn’t heard about Gena/Finn yet but I adore fandom books so I must give it a try! Pinterest definitely sucks up time – I try to go on just for 5 minutes and before I know it it’s two hours later 😀

  2. OMG YEEEES. I really, really, REALLY loved this book, and I think it’s a damn shame it’s so underrated – the fandom voice was spot on and I love how the characters developed. The exploration of Catholic guilt was pretty interesting, too – I wish we have more of those.

    Seconding the Gena/Finn comment above, though my own experience is probably more positive – the tone of the story did get a lot darker, but to me it didn’t quite make me dislike the book, though it was a bit jarring bc the fandom focus was so funny and light-hearted (for the most part). It’s written in an epistolary format, though, which makes for easy reading. 😛

    1. I know, I loved this so much and was surprised this wasn’t hugely popular! It definitely deserves more love! The characters were amazing and I love how the Catholic guilt aspect was handled.
      Gena/Finn sounds amazing, I’m definitely adding it to my TBR. The mixed feelings about the ending are kind of intriguing me 🙂

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