If you’re an avid reader of YA, chances are you’ve read a book with a queer protagonist. Take Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda for example, or The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue. While there’s still an overwhelming amount of YA books published with allocishet main characters, we’ve definitely come a long way in terms of representation in the past five years.
But when thinking about books with queer characters, most of the time I’ve found that people are likely to recommend novels with gay, lesbian, or bisexual protagonists – not ones who are of different identities from what people perceive as ‘more common’. I want to read more books about aromantic characters, or people who are nonbinary, or those who are pansexual. I just want more representation in general – and I do believe we’re getting closer to that.
But today, I’m going to share my top five recommendations for YA novels featuring asexual characters! While not all of these books feature asexual protagonists, all the characters I mention play a major role in the novel and are explicitly on the asexual spectrum.
Of course, our Book of the Month has incredible aromantic / asexual representation! I fell in love with Felicity the first time I was introduced to her in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue, and I got to know her even more in this one — and that was an absolute treat! Not only is she one badass feminist queen, she’s also unafraid of being herself completely and not letting anyone tell her how she should live her life. If we were all a little bit more like Felicity Montague, the world would be a much better place.
This is the first book I’ve seen the entirety of my sexuality in, and as much as I love reading about bisexual and asexual characters, I’ve never related to someone so much as when I read about the protagonist of Let’s Talk About Love, who is biromantic asexual. I haven’t read that many YA books that are set in college either, so that was another one of my favourite aspects about this all-round phenomenal novel. I just loved how candidly it talked about what it means to be biromantic asexual — oh, and the romance was incredibly swoon-worthy.
Tash Hearts Tolstoy was the first book I ever read with an asexual protagonist, and it will always have such a special place in my heart because of that. It was the first time that I recognised my feelings so clearly in another character, and I can remember the precise moment I was like, Hang on, maybe I’m asexual. But Tash Hearts Tolstoy isn’t just a book about sexuality. It’s about YouTubers and fame and friendship, and it’s just so pure! Please read it, you won’t regret it.
Although the protagonist in Radio Silence is bisexual, one of the side characters comes out as being on the ace spectrum—and he’s in fact one of the very few demisexual characters I’ve read about! Radio Silence is another book that I see so much of myself in, not just in the characters’ sexualities, but in the overall themes of the anxieties surrounding going to university, the fear that can come with choosing to follow your passions, and standing up against abusive parental figures. Radio Silence is just me in a book.
I picked up Every Heart a Doorway primarily because of the asexual representation I’d been told it contained, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Every Heart a Doorway was such a whimsical, quick read, and I adored every second of reading it! It’s what I’ve been craving after reading Narnia as a kid, and while nothing will ever truely recapture the sense of awe and amazement as I felt when reading one of my favourite books as a kid for the first time, it sure came close. Like every great book should include, Every Heart a Doorway has such a diverse cast of characters and I loved getting to know them all.