Friday, February 19, 2016

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 11:59 AM

Age: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary, romance, LGTQIA+
Rating: 4 stars


Melissa Thinks: I think that I described How to Repair a Mechanical Heart to a friend as being about “fandoms and Jesus”. Brandon and Abel make vlogs together about Castaway Planet, a Star Trek-like television show they both adore. It’s actually how they met—through a fan forum dedicated to the show. Now they’re getting ready to go on a road trip to visit various cons throughout the country to make good on a bet they made with a rival group of fans (shippers of the two main characters, Cadmus and Sim).

The interesting thing about this book is how it really tackles the good, the bad, and the cringe-worthy side of being a fan—the sense of community, the shipping wars, the fic. It even brushes on things like fanservice and queer baiting (which, for those who don’t know, is when the writers of a TV show will create sexual tension and subtext between two same sex characters without any intention of having them be gay, bisexual, pansexual, etc. They do it to essentially grab the attention of queer viewers).

Additionally, Brandon also provides an interesting narrative regarding his sexuality. There’s a few super common character tropes in m/m fiction: the “gay for you” trope (where a character is essentially “straight” until they meet their love interest and realize how super gay they are), and the “I’m gay, but I don’t want to come out in fear of making everyone I love hate me” trope. Brandon was neither. Instead, the author explores his complex relationship with his parents, religion, and God. His church has taught him to hate gay people, and so now he struggles with self-hatred; he doesn’t know how to love and accept himself while also staying faithful to his religion. His parents, who seem to live and breathe their church, are similarly conflicted with how to accept this part of their son. It’s often shown in the book that they prefer to just pretend he never came out, or they try to change him to fit their own ideas of what he should be.

There was a lot to like in this book in terms of writing, characters, and plot. There was something special about the humor and the voice, which made the book unique in my opinion. The author’s coverage of the dynamics between fans, creators, and (in the case of shows/movies) actors was refreshing and real, albeit exaggerated.

Recommended for lovers of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell!

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