As some of you may know, a while ago I decided to read a bunch of books with asexual characters. It was a lot of fun, and I was introduced to some really amazing new authors that I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise. I know it’s a bit late to post this now, but I figured I might as well post it this year. Although I couldn’t make this post on Asexuality Awareness Week, I am very happy that I have become aware of so many new asexual characters.
- As always, we need more:
- asexual characters of color (I found more then I expected [eg, The Posterchildren, The Legend Mirror series, Guardian of the Dead, The Fire’s Stone, Afterworlds [even though the last two never confirmed it]) but still not nearly enough)
- homoromantic/panromantic/biromantic asexuals
- books written by asexual authors (Lunaside by J.L. Douglas is a good one)
- asexual characters who have sex for reasons other than sexual attraction (because hey! that actually happens!)
- but ALSO asexual characters who DON’T want to have sex in relationships where their partner is 100% okay with not having a sexual relationship (because that happens too!)
- diverse asexual characters in general (because DESTROY the idea that asexual people can only be one way)
- books that actual use the word “asexual”
- I mean, I’m asexual, and I’ve still questioned the validity of my sexual orientation several times. So seeing the word on a page, seeing that “hey, this is a legitimate thing to be!” is really validating. I don’t think I even realized how much I appreciated that until this month.
- PUBLICITY FOR THE ACE BOOKS THAT EXIST OUT THERE (especially the self-published ones)
- And we need less:
- misinformation on what asexuality is (conflating it with being aromantic or celibate, for example)
- presenting asexuality primarily as a negative thing
- note: I realize this is complicated because a character can view themselves negatively due to their asexuality and ends up accepting themselves later on. There’s one series in particularly where the ace main character reflects on her lack of sexual attraction and sees it as yet another thing wrong with her, but the series isn’t over and I haven’t given up hope that she’ll accept this part of herself in time?
- one thing I see in a lot of books is an allosexual character having feelings for an asexual and/or aromantic character and the situation being framed to be about how hard it is for the allosexual character and…urgh. Most of the books I’ve read with this eventually have character A accept character B the way they are, but still…urgh.
- the narrative presenting a character as aromantic and later turning back on that and giving them a love interest
- On the one hand, grey-aromantic and demiromantic people do exist, and identity is fluid. On the other hand, I don’t think most readers will be aware of this; they’re more likely to attribute it to the colossally incorrect idea that being aromantic is a “phase” that people “outgrow” when they “meet the right person”. It also sort of ties into the trope that people need to have romantic love in their loves to be fulfilled, which is completley false.
- perpetuating of the idea that being asexual/aromantic = being bad at feelings
- this is one of those “not inherently bad on an individual basis, but used so frequently as a trope that it becomes kind of :/ :/ :/ when you look at all the combined examples” type of things
- asexuality being directly tied to not being human
And now, some book recs! (there are more comprehensive lists elsewhere, but these are my personal favorites)
- Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey (Maori mythology and teens saving the world. There are some issues with the representation in this book [eg, conflating asexual/aromantic] and I wish Kevin had more of a role in the story, but it’s the first book I read that actually used the word asexual and I appreciate it a lot, okay?)
- The Posterchildren by Kitty Burroughs (Superhero kids and friendship and so many hearts in my eyes! I honestly can’t think about this book without smiling. And yeah, one of the main characters is gray-asexual. I love him. I love them all. They’re my children.)
- Sinners and Veiled by Eka Waterfeld (A day in the life of an asexual aromantic sidhe drug lord. I…don’t think I need to say anything else here.)
- Quicksilver by RJ Anderson (possibly my favorite in terms of how it handled the main character’s asexuality [actually using the word, distinguishing between sexual/romantic/aesthetic attraction, destroying the idea that friendship is less than romance, making it clear that the characters asexuality is not connected to a certain spoiler])
- Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (not mentioned in text, but confirmed via tweet, I believe! The main character is a teenage writer who gets a book deal, moves to New York, deals with the whole adulting thing, and falls in love with another lady author. a few things were resolved too fast, and I mostly could have done without the chapters of the book she wrote, but it was still a really fun meta book.
And ones where the asexuality isn’t confirmed, but that I still liked a lot, include
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (I honestly have several problems with how the end of Liraz’s story is handled [which I will rant about if I ever do the Unpopular Opinions Book tag], and I’m pretty sure the author did not intend for her to be asexual, but that’s how I read her and I related a lot to her complicated feelings about romance, so she’s on the list)
- The Fire’s Stone by Tanya Huff (I still get a big smile on my face thinking about this book, to be honest? It’s a fun character driven three-misfits-go-on-a-quest fantasy that also handles alcohol dependence well and has m/m romance! I’m not sure whether Chandra is meant to be asexual or just celibate, but I’m reading her as asexual because I can.)