Recommended Books with Asexual Characters
By Lynn O’Connacht
Lynn O’Connacht has an MA in English literature and creative writing, but wouldn’t call herself an authority on either. She’s been an English tutor, writer and editor for over a decade. She currently resides on the European continent and her idiom and spelling are, despite her best efforts, geographically confused, poor things. Her tastes are equally eclectic, though fantasy will always be her first love and most of her work contains at least one ace or arospec character. She has been chasing stories one way or another since she was old enough to follow a narrative.
By Claire Kann
Let’s Talk About Love is a contemporary YA novel featuring a Black, biromantic asexual protagonist as she works out what she wants from life. Alice is easily the most relatable asexual character I’ve read to date. The first chapter of Let’s Talk About Love can be very rough for any asexual reader who’s ever been dumped because of their asexuality, but it soon settles into the fun and romantic romp that the reader is promised by the blurb. Let’s Talk About Love is open about using and exploring the split attraction model without ever trying to present Alice’s experiences as The One True Experience. It also includes several scenes with supportive and accepting authority figures. What Kann has managed to fit into less than 300 pages is absolutely stunning and nothing short of amazing. One of my favourite parts about Let’s Talk About Love is its explicit discussion of boundaries and its acknowledgement that Alice is allowed to set boundaries on how and whether she has sex in a romantic relationship.
CW: Aphobia/Amisia (called out) in the first chapter.
By R.J. Anderson
Note: Quicksilver is a sequel/companion to Ultraviolet. While you can read Quicksilver on its own, it does contain massive spoilers for Ultraviolet.
Quicksilver features one of my favourite ace coming out scenes in fiction. It’s a highly personal scene between Tori and Milo. It’s serious but light-hearted, acknowledging and avoiding many of the reactions that asexual readers may have encountered themselves in the past. The book actively tries to dismantle a lot of stereotypes regarding asexual people, such as the idea that asexual people are passionless or uncaring and actively seeking to avoid being part of a community. Tori is passionate and driven, with her motivations explicitly linked to her desire to make the world a better place and to contribute to her community. Quicksilver is one of the first books published to explicitly use the word ‘asexual’ and one of the first to actively and explicitly challenge the stereotypes that asexuals face in day-to-day life. At the time I compiled this list, it also remains one of the most successful books at countering these stereotypes and prejudices.
By Kathryn Ormsbee
Tash Hearts Tolstoy can be a bit messy about its depiction of asexuality, I admit, but it’s messy in a way that will be very recognisable to asexual readers because it deals with the effects of internalised amisia. Tash is the writer and producer of a small amateur web series that becomes an overnight sensation. While she’s struggling to deal with the internet fame, she also has to deal with the changes within her family, the usual production problems, friendship problems and a romantic attraction in a long-distance relationship with another vlogger. In the midst of all this, Tash is left to figure out how to balance her life and becomes a lovely example of the way some asexuals are oblivious to innuendo or flirting, as she’s utterly oblivious to Paul’s feelings as well as her own. She’s incredibly passionate, not afraid of making mistakes or trying to fix them, and not always likeable. But she tries and is surrounded largely by supportive people.
By Alice Oseman
Radio Silence is largely about the friendship between Frances (bisexual) and Aled, who meet by chance and start to make a hugely successful podcast together. Aled is explicitly demisexual and in a homoromantic relationship with Frances’ sort-of rival, Daniel. The demisexuality representation in Radio Silence is subtle yet effective and the romance in this novel takes a rare backseat to friendship. Filtered through Frances’ point of view, Radio Silence offers a rare glimpse at what being on the asexual spectrum looks and feels like to allosexuals in a way that doesn’t invalidate or stereotype the asexual character. Its strong focus on friendship is something that will appeal to many asexual and especially to aromantic readers looking for a book that acknowledges how powerful and important friendship is and that friendships are no less worthy than romantic relationships are.
CW: suicide ideation, depression, emotional abuse, and animal cruelty.
The King’s Name
By Jo Walton
While not YA fiction, The King’s Name is one of the best depictions of asexuality that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. The story follows Sulien ap Gwien as she joins the army of King Urdo. The King’s Name is deeply inspired by Arthurian legends and the world is rich and detailed. While the book never puts a name to Sulien’s sexuality, she’s explicitly shown to be an aromantic asexual person. The strength of the book’s depiction of asexuality lies in the easy acceptance that the book’s characters and society shows Sulien repeatedly. Though there are some jokes and innuendos made at Sulien’s expense, they’re never mean-spirited or nasty. The King’s Name is the only book I’ve ever read that has its society accept asexuality so casually.
Note: This book does not appear in our database because it is adult fiction. However, it could certainly appeal to older teens, especially those interested in historical fantasy.
By Lyssa Chiavari
Fourth World features not one, but two asexual protagonists. Isaak and Nadin come from two different times and very different places, but they’ll have to work together in order to save both their worlds. Having multiple characters on the asexual spectrum allows Fourth World to explicitly include and explore different experiences. Isaak is demisexual and well aware of this. He’s also attracted to one of his best friends and is trying to work out how to tell her. Nadin is sex-repulsed and asexual and is trying to figure out her feelings and how to tell her fiancé what she wants. My favourite part is the way the book captures Nadin’s feelings when her partner kisses her and she discovers she doesn’t like it. It’s a visceral scene, neatly demonstrating how asexuals, sex-repulsed asexuals especially, can be made to feel broken by the way society looks at them. Isaak’s narrative also explicitly tackles some of the prejudices against demisexuality.
CW: Aphobia/Amisia (partially called out)
By Marieke Nijkamp
Before I Let Go features a questioning asexual character as she tries to discover what caused her best friend’s death. Though Before I Let Go conflates asexuality and aromanticism, it’s a novel in which the asexual character is both questioning and allowed to simply be. Given how many people still believe that a character’s sexuality or gender identity should have a clear narrative point, Nijkamp’s decision to explicitly include Corey’s sexuality without tying it to the plot is a powerful one. Corey’s exploration of asexuality will resonate with readers who are still trying to figure out whether or where they fall on the spectrum. CW: Suicide, parental neglect, emotional abuse, attempted murder
By Claudie Arseneault
City of Strife features several asexual characters, all of them on different points of the spectrum. It’s an epic fantasy novel with an all-queer cast inspired by D&D and features Arseneault’s trademark combination of idealism and practicality, resulting in one of the most hopeful and accepting books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. City of Strife is the first book in a trilogy and its exploration of different orientations is deliciously diverse. Its asexual representation covers the spectrum and features casual discussions and acceptance of queer identities. The heart of the trilogy is Cal, an aromantic asexual priest with a heart of gold and a hug for anyone who needs one. Cal’s sexuality is immediately clear whereas other characters are clearly questioning. City of Strife is one of the few books I’ve read that shows that labels can change as we learn about ourselves and this doesn’t make someone any less of a person or that they’re broken or lying. CW: Abuse (verbal, physical), violence, fire/burns, torture, racism, mind control.