Asexual Awareness Week: Spotlight: Readers’ Favourite Books with Ace Characters
Welcome to the last post for this year’s Asexual Awareness Week, and thank you for sticking with us here on the blog. We hope you’ll keep visiting us even once the week is over 🙂
When we were planning the schedule for this week, we thought we’d like to give readers a bit of space here, too. We came up with the idea of doing a post with readers’ favourite books with asexual characters, so we asked for volunteers on Twitter and they brought up some new books for us and you.
We don’t want to start this list without first saying a big THANK YOU to those of you that liked, retweeted and answered to our request and all the posts we’ve done this week. You’ve been a big part of this AAW, and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Now, let’s talk about books!
27 HOURS by Tristina Wright (Release Date: 3rd October 2017)
Rumor Mora wants revenge. He’s lived all of his seventeen years on the colonized moon of Sahara, and he can’t remember a time when humans weren’t warring with the gargoyles—frightening beasts that attack human colonists during the night. Now the gargoyles have gone too far—they attacked his city and burned it to the ground. The sole survivor of the attack, Rumor is determined to avenge the death of his father, and no one is going to stand in his way. No one. Not even the incredibly hot boy who keeps trying to tell him that the gargoyles aren’t the monsters he thinks they are.
Nyx Llorca wants understanding. She was born deaf, and the moon vibrates under her feet in an urgent language she can’t figure out. As war between humans and gargoyles rages around her and the vibrations grow more insistent, she’s terrified that the moon is trying to warn her of something much bigger and more terrible to come. And if that isn’t enough, she’s fallen in love with her best friend and is terrified admitting the truth will destroy their friendship.
Jude Welton wants peace. He has lived most of his life in the forest community of Azrou, far from the colonies, and the bias of the humans who use the slur “gargoyle” to describe the creatures who live on Sahara. He belongs to a group of people who believe that the humans and creatures—called chimera—can exist together in peace. But when his chimera friend, Vala, goes missing, Jude must step out of his peaceful existence and directly into the war. And the angriest boy he’s ever met just happens to know where Vala is. Rumor is Jude’s key to getting her back—if only Jude can convince him that not all chimera are evil.
Braeden Tennant wants belonging. As the son of a colony commander, he’s grown up with expectations of a military future, of continuing the unending war against the gargoyles. All he wants to do is steal a spaceship and leave Sahara—maybe take an automata cat with him. But when he finds the seeds of friendship with Rumor’s arrival and is pulled into a vast conspiracy involving his friends, the gargoyles, the forest rebels, and his moms, he has to decide where his loyalties lie once and for all.
This book isn’t set to release until October 2017, but as one of Tristina’s beta readers, I’ve had the honor and pleasure to read multiple formats for this novel, including the most recently revised version. One reason I love this book is because all of the six main characters are queer. I was able to see my bisexuality in both Rumor and Dahlia, in instances where their sexuality was just accepted for what it was, which went a long way towards making me feel more comfortable the first time I read it. But what I loved even more than that was Braeden, who is asexual. I’ve said it before, both to Tristina privately and in public forums, but that very first reading is my ace son Braeden was ultimately the catalyst I needed to begin exploring for myself, to realize that I am demiromantic/sexual as well as biromantic/sexual. Braeden, this book, and Tristina held a place in my heart already, but they burrowed even deeper into my heart and soul once I found this missing piece of me.
PART & PARCEL (SIDEWINDER #3) by Abigail Roux
Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott had their happy ending in sight when a friend’s call for help almost ended with them losing it to the blade of a knife. Now, in the aftermath of near-disaster, both men are trying to heal and move on.
Moving on together, though, is harder than either of them realized it would be. Kelly struggles with simply being a lover instead of the Doc, while Nick is mired in his recovery. The distance between them inches along in stilted silence.
Desperately seeking solace, Nick finally gathers the courage to sort through the possessions his dear friend and fellow Sidewinder teammate Elias Sanchez left him when he died. Instead of comforting memories, Nick and Kelly find a stack of letters and strict instructions from Eli that prompt them to send out a call for assistance. With Eli’s letters in hand, Sidewinder sets out on one last mission together, seeking peace and absolution from beyond the grave—and from each other.
At the end of this book, one character comes out as demisexual and another comes out as asexual. This scene and this book are important because the words are actually, explicitly used, when they often are left out of novels because many people don’t understand what they mean. But they’re important to me not only for that reason, but because it shows that people on the asexual spectrum exist outside of sci-fi/fantasy stories. We’re real.
WE AWAKEN by Calista Lynne
Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.
But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.
Both of the main characters in this novel are asexual, and I loved that in and of itself, but I also enjoyed the fact that they were at different stages with their sexuality. One of the characters has known she’s ace for years and years, and she’s completely comfortable with herself. The other one is just finding out that asexuality is even a thing and begins researching; it takes her a little while to ultimately decide it’s a mantle that fits her, but I think that’s realistic in the state of our current society. In a time and place when asexual people are considered jokes, or just in need of finding “the right person,” it’s so real for this girl to question and hesitate and try to fit other labels to herself first. But it’s a blessing to have a book with two ace characters, who actually use the word, so that more children can find themselves in the books they read.
Alice is secretly asexual, and that’s the least important thing about her.
She’s a college student, has a great job, amazing friends, and is fine being single—nope, that’s a lie. Alice wants rom com-grade romance: feels, cuddling, kissing, and swoons galore—as long as it doesn’t lead to having sex.
After her last relationship ends with soul-crushing parting words from her ex, Alice swears off relationships for good. Stick a fork in her, she’s done. Everyone Alice tries to date is so sure love and sex have to go together, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to convince them otherwise.
But when Alice experiences instant attraction for the first time with her coworker Takumi, she doesn’t know what to do. If Alice tells him the truth, it can only end in heartache. But there’s something about Takumi that makes him worth the risk…
This book isn’t even out yet, but I read the version that was on Swoon Reads and I can tell it’s going to be the ace book that I recommend to everyone who wants to understand asexuality better. Claire Kann does a wonderful job creating a multidimensional picture of asexuality, showing how many different forms attraction can take, and addressing the different problems a college-age asexual can face. In addition, there’s cute romance (cutie code red, to borrow the protagonist’s terminology), little nerdy references everywhere, and a wonderfully lovable cast of characters. Attention is paid to intersectionality, which I greatly appreciated. I’m so happy that this book won the Swoon Reads contest and I can’t wait to see how it evolves once it’s published.
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.
Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.
I debated about including this book since the representation isn’t explicitly in the text, but I connected to Darcy’s character so much that I wanted to include it. It’s also really nice to read a book and just be able to tell, and then actually have it confirmed, even on the author’s twitter. I didn’t really care for the sections of Darcy’s novel, but I loved Darcy as a character; how even her bad decisions felt relatable and real, her relationship with Imogen, and the insider’s perspective on the publishing world.
Quicksilver by RJ Anderson
Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenaged girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it.
Now she’s left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can’t escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual… talents.
Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn’t escaped her past. In fact, she’s attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab.
She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she’s always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori’s incredible electronics and engineering skills—and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.
Look, this book is on every single ace book rec list under the sun for a reason. It addresses different forms of attraction, challenges the idea that friendship is less valuable than romance, and is one of the best representations of asexuality that I’ve seen on the page. I wasn’t too invested in the plot, but Tori is an amazing protagonist–sharp and smart, with the right mixture of strength and vulnerability. I would definitely recommend this book to any asexual reader.
The Posterchildren by Kitty Burroughs
Nestled in the Cascade mountains in the Pacific Northwest, Maillardet’s Foundation for the Future of Humanity is widely accepted as being the premiere training facility for young posthumans. The Academy accepts superpowered posterchildren from ages six through seventeen, guiding them through the training that they’ll need if they want to become legally licensed heroes.
Maillardet’s Academy advertises itself as being for all types, welcoming the offspring of the greatest heroes of today – like Ernest Wright, the son of the Commander – along with new posters just learning to control their powers – like Juniper Hovick, a temperamental New Yorker with a flaming menagerie. Maillardet’s is where the heroes of tomorrow are assembled today, so the pressure to perform is high.
For disgraced legacy poster Malek Underwood, the third block of his training begins with him being knocked from his pedestal as the top student in the school, then paired with an almost failing lesbian speedster named Zipporah Chance. Though they come from different backgrounds, Ernest, Juniper, Malek, and Zipporah all have the same goal: surviving the year.
If they’re ever going to become heroes, they have to make it to finals, first.
This book just made me so happy, and I highly recommend it to everyone who likes superheroes or found family–it’s one of the most fun-and-genuinely-heartfelt books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It’s an ensemble cast, and one of the four main POV characters is gray-asexual; it’s only mentioned once, but it’s made pretty clear.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.
Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.
But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.
But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.
No matter the cost.
The story follows what happens after kids return from being dropped into magical adventures in other worlds like Wonderland and Narnia, and how they readapt, and sometimes fail to readapt, to life in the real world again. The story is an interesting, thought-provoking meditation on what happens after some of our favorite, most classic stories end, and it just so happens to have an asexual lead, as well as an important supporting trans character. For both characters, their sexuality and gender identity shape parts of their personality and their past, but they don’t define their character or their roles in the story. Personally, that’s my favorite kind of representation.
We alredy knew about some of these, but some others are completely new to us and we’ve already added them to out TBR piles. What about you? Any favourites you want to tell us about? If you have them, please do talk to us about them! 😀
Previous Asexual Awareness Week Posts:
Sunday – Our Experience with Asexuality
Monday – Author Interview with Elyse Springer
Tuesday – Guest Post by Kyell Gold
Wednesday – Our Fave Books in romance with Ace Characters
Thursday – Author Interview with Matthew J. Metzger
Friday – Books with Asexual Characters on Our to-read list
Asexual Awareness Week Orientation: Asexual (+ace-spec) Asexual Awareness Week Book Recs
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