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 Explictly Asexual Characters
So we’ve tackled different genres of books now. It’s time to shake things up a little. This week we’re covering books with explicitly asexual characters. That is to say, this week we’re covering books in which the characters explicitly state their sexuality as being on the asexual spectrum in the story. We’ve had a few books where this happens already, but this week is dedicated to that. So let us go to the books!
One year ago a car accident killed Victoria Dinham’s father, and now all that keeps her going is the hope of getting into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. That is, until an ethereal girl named Ashlinn visits her in her sleep claiming to be the creator of good dreams and carrying a message from her comatose brother. They meet in Victoria’s subconscious, and over time they come to care for each other. Ashlinn is secure in her asexuality, but Victoria has never heard of it. Soon, however, she realizes she too must be asexual.
On the day of Victoria’s big dance audition, her mother is unable to drive her to town so Ashlinn must turn human to help Victoria chase her dreams. While in New York City, Victoria and Ashlinn explore their affections for each other and try to understand what it means to be asexual teenagers. Unfortunately for the couple, Ashlinn cannot stay human forever, and humanity begins to suffer from not having her around to create pleasant fantasies each night.
This book comes with massive trigger warnings for amisia, aro-erasure and sexual assault. The amisia and assault get called out. The aro-erasure goes unexamined. We Awaken made a relatively large splash, partially because it features the world asexual in the blurb already and isn’t shy about discussing it. Unusual for many stories about asexuals, it’s actually another asexual character who introduces Victoria to the term. Much of the narrative revolves around Victoria learning what asexuality is and how it applies to her.
And, of course, it’s also an asexual f/f romance, so there’re plenty of cute and romantic scenes between Ashlinn and Victoria.
In the grand tradition of comic book reboots like ARCHIE VOL. 1, Archie Comics proudly presents… JUGHEAD VOL. 1 — from the comics dream team of Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson! Riverdale High provides a quality education and quality hot lunches, but when one of those is tampered with, Jughead Jones swears vengeance! Well, I mean, he doesn’t “swear.” This is still Archie Comics after all.
I think Jughead from the Archie comics may be one of the most well-known asexual characters of all time. He’s certainly one of the oldest. Chip Zdarsky explicitly made him asexual during his tenure working on the comics. I haven’t read the Jughead comics (or any Archie) myself, but several friends have and appreciate his vocal disinterest in sex and, since he’s widely considered aromantic as well, romance.
THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.
Eighteen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this–the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she is to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.
Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.
As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down…even if it costs her everything.
Another book I haven’t read Dare Mighty Things is a book that appears to have flown somewhat under the radar. It’s near-future science fiction and the first in, I think, a duology. It certainly sounds pretty interesting to me and reviewers all say that Cassie explicitly describes herself as asexual.
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