As is undoubtedly no surprise to anyone who’s heard of me, I really really love giving recommendations for books featuring asexual characters. As a reader and writer on the asexual spectrum, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen plenty of recommendations lists that are about asexual characters or that include asexual characters that repeat the same books over and over. Indeed, I’ve seen recommendations lists that explicitly stated that the handful of books the writer managed to find was all the asexual fiction out there. Considering it was missing several easy-to-find well-known and traditionally published books by respected authors… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
But it is true that, for many readers, books with asexual characters in them are difficult to find. Many aren’t readily available in bookstores even when they’re pretty popular and well-respected. When I was in Cambridge, I saw displays of several books nominated for the Hugo Awards because they were nominated for the Hugo Awards, but Every Heart a Doorway? Couldn’t find a single copy anywhere. Not on display and not on the shelves. They didn’t stock it. And I wish I could say it was just one bookstore, but it was every major chain I visited. Likewise, in libraries you’ll have more luck finding books featuring asexual characters if you already know the titles before you enter. In both cases, you’ll probably have to ask the staff to order a copy specifically, so venturing into bookshops or libraries and hoping to find books featuring asexual characters just isn’t likely to happen.
Especially in combination with the way recommendation lists for books with asexual representation are usually styled, this difficulty to find books if you don’t already know they exist feeds into a negative spiral where recommendations lists repeat the same books over and over with the same note that this is all there is or this is all the writer could find. Yet there is so much more available to readers…
This is a series that aims to present small lists of books featuring asexual characters with some brief personal commentary on the books. Each list consists of 3 books centred around a single, relatively broad theme. While, sadly, I have had to restrict my recommendations lists to 3 books instead of the more usual 5 found in recommendations lists, each list does consist of 3 unique books. There are no repeats of titles in this series of recommendation posts. This series consists of 10 posts for a total of 30 books featuring asexual characters in various roles.
Unless otherwise noted, assume that books mentioned either seem to assume all asexuals are aromantic or that they’ll erase aromanticism altogether.
I hope you’ll find something terrific to read in these lists! Most all categories have more than three books I could put there, but as I mentioned I only had space for a handful of books or stories. If you’d like to see even more of then, check out Claudie Arseneault’s database of aromantic and asexual (speculative) fiction, which features many more books starring asexual characters!
This week’s theme is…
3 Books with Multiple Asexual Characters
There aren’t just books that feature aces who explicitly describe themselves as asexual as we saw last week. There are also plenty of books out there that feature multiple asexual characters and that cover more than one aspect of the asexual spectrum. This week, we’re looking at three of them!
Life on Mars isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when you’re Isaak Contreras. Ever since his dad disappeared two years ago, Isaak’s been struggling to keep up in school, and he never seems to be able to live up to his mom’s high expectations. But everything changes when he finds an ancient coin among his missing father’s possessions. The coin makes him a target of both the Martian colonial government and a crazed scientist with a vendetta—and it leads him to a girl from another time named Nadin, who believes that Isaak might just hold the key to saving both their worlds. That is, if they can survive long enough to use it…
If you were looking for an(other) asexual romance that stars two aces, this is the book for you. Fourth World is a science fiction YA adventure starring a demisexual and a sex-repulsed asexual main character. The book isn’t quite structured the way you might expect from a story that features the pov of its two narrators, so that might take some getting used to, but it’s a lot of fun to read. Nadin’s world is inspired heavily by Ancient Greece too, so if that’s your jam this is absolutely the book for you.
A hundred and thirty years have passed since Arathiel last set foot in his home city. Isandor hasn’t changed—bickering merchant families still vie for power through eccentric shows of wealth—but he has. His family is long dead, a magical trap has dulled his senses, and he returns seeking a sense of belonging now long lost. Arathiel hides in the Lower City, piecing together a new life among in a shelter dedicated to the homeless and the poor, befriending an uncommon trio: the Shelter’s rageful owner, Larryn, his dark elven friend Hasryan, and Cal the cheese-loving halfling.
When Hasryan is accused of Isandor’s most infamous assassination of the last decade, what little peace Arathiel has managed to find for himself is shattered. Hasryan is innocent… he thinks. In order to save him, Arathiel may have to shatter the shreds of home he’d managed to build for himself. Arathiel could appeal to the Dathirii—a noble elven family who knew him before he disappeared—but he would have to stop hiding, and they have battles of their own to fight.
The idealistic Lord Dathirii is waging a battle of honour and justice against the cruel Myrian Empire, objecting to their slavery, their magics, and inhumane treatment of their apprentices. One he could win, if only he could convince Isandor’s rulers to stop courting Myrian’s favours for profit. In the ripples that follow Diel’s opposition, friendships shatter and alliances crumble. Arathiel, the Dathirii, and everyone in Isandor fights to preserve their homes, even if the struggle changes them irrevocably.
If you’re looking for queer epic fantasy, look no further. Arseneault’s City of Strife is filled to the brim with queer characters all colours of the rainbow, notably several asexual characters. Cal, Nevian and Larryn are all on different parts of the asexual and aromantic spectrum. It’s a sprawling narrative with a large cast, so you’ll get to see the city of Isandor from the very top to the very bottom and from outside in. (Basically: if you’re looking for a specific type of pov on city living, whether it’s a nobleman or a beggar, this book has got you covered.) It’s high fantasy with a D&D flavour and it’s just… Delightful.
Note: This ends on a massive cliffhanger. If you’re enjoying it, get book 2 asap.
Comes with warnings for abuse (physical, emotional, mind control — seriously, if depictions of abuse trigger you, please be very careful when approaching this novel/avoid it.), torture, homelessness, child abandonment, police brutality, racism, family death, memory loss, death by fire (mention) and hanging.
She warned of the pain. She did.
But no warning can prepare you.
How could I have known
What it is like on the dry sand?
We just watched.
It’s hard, not being able to ask
Questions, though I have learned some speech
With my hands. ˆ_ˆ
I miss my sisters.
I have made friends here.
I have laughed with them,
Learned with them, played with them.
I love them.
She said I would die if he loves someone else.
Will I die? At the beginning I wanted to. It hurts
So much. Life isn’t easy, will never be easy, but…
I don’t want to become sea foam.
Sea Foam and Silence is a verse novel featuring a demiromantic asexual mermaid and an aromantic asexual prince. It’s mine so, again, I won’t really talk too much about it as I’m extremely biased. It comes with warnings for discussions of amisia, but is overall something I would (obviously) recommend if you’re looking for a cut and fluffy thoroughly ace spec comfort read.
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