All About That Ace: books with great asexual representation!

This is a post I’ve been thinking about writing for a while now–I get asked on a semi-regular basis what my favorite books with asexual representation are. As someone who identifies as ace, I like being able to see characters whose experiences more closely reflect my own, but I’ve quickly found what so many others have seen as well: there just isn’t a lot of ace rep out there. Thus, I figured it might be a good idea to compile all the ace books I’ve read so far, along with some thoughts on each one, to help readers out there who are in the same boat as me!

UPDATE 1/4/2022 – Find Part 2 of this list, with all the ace books I read in 2021, HERE!

So, for all the aces out there–and anyone else who wants to see more asexual characters–here’s a list of books I’ve read in the past couple years with solid ace rep, in the form of main characters or side characters, along with notes on how the rep is portrayed and any relevant warnings. When I have a review on my blog (or Bookstagram) for the book, I also have included a link to that!

Disclaimer: Asexuality is not a monolithic identity, and all aces have unique experiences. These comments are purely representative of my perspective and are not meant to speak for the ace community as a whole.

Books with Ace Main Characters:

Every Heart a Doorway

Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children (#1)
Genre: adult portal fantasy
Ace rep: romantic asexual main character
More: the character confirms on-page that she is asexual. The romantic part is implied; the main character mentions how she enjoys kissing but is not at all interested in anything that comes after. All the other characters are highly respectful of her identity.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

Author: Mackenzi Lee
Series: The Montague Siblings (#2)
Genre: YA historical fiction
Ace rep: aromantic asexual main character
More: Felicity Montague is the feisty, independent, aro-ace, science-loving girl that the world needs. Plus, there is a scene near the end of the book that is possibly the best explanation of asexuality I’ve seen, including addressing the common “bUt HoW dO yOu KnOw YoU dOn’T lIkE iT iF yOu’Ve NeVeR tRiEd It?” question in a clear and respectful way. The actual terms “aromantic” and “asexual” are not used, but that’s because in the time period the book is set in, those terms didn’t exist yet. There is no question, however, that those describe Felicity’s orientation.

I do want to note that there has been some controversy involving the author in recent years, including some questionable trans rep in another one of her books (which she has since decided not to publish as a result), a question about whether The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue perpetuated a “white savior” narrative, and an incident where she was signing other authors’ books (it was intended to help benefit a local indie, but was also very tone-deaf and racially insensitive). I know that, for this reason, some people may not want to support her. However, all qualms about the author aside, the book itself was amazing, especially with regard to the aro-ace rep. It isn’t OwnVoices, but the author clearly did her research. If you don’t want to give her money, maybe buy this one from a used bookstore or get it from the library?

Beyond the Black Door

Author: A.M. Strickland
Genre: YA dark fantasy
Ace rep: demi-biromantic asexual protagonist (OwnVoices), asexual love interest, asexual secondary character
More: this book has a good explanation of the split attraction model, but put into fantasy, non-medical-sounding terms! It does not use the term “asexual” on-page (at least not to my recollection), but it does in the blurb, and the author has used it herself in describing the book as well. It also deals with topics like being closeted and coming out, especially in a society where sexual content and expectations are everywhere.
My Review

Vicious/Vengeful

Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: adult sci-fi/fantasy
Ace rep: asexual main character
More: Romance and sexuality are really not a focus of this book at all–it’s mostly about morally gray characters and what distinguishes heroes from villains–but it is alluded to more than once that the main character is asexual.

Just in case this comes up in any reviews you might read, I want to stress that this is not a case of “asexuality makes people into villains.” Though the ace main character is a little iffy on his morals, the more-obviously-villainous character in the book is not ace.

Elatsoe

Author: Darcie Little Badger
Genre: YA fantasy
Ace rep: aromantic asexual main character (OwnVoices)
More: This is an out-and-proud ace character whose friends and family are hugely supportive! I was also really pleased that there was a subtle reference to queerplatonic relationships, using the term “zucchini” (it’s a whole thing, if you don’t know what it means, that’s totally fine–but it made me smile when I picked up on it!).

The Dragon of Ynys

Author: Minerva Cerridwen
Genre: fantasy novella
Ace rep: aromantic asexual main character (OwnVoices)
More: This story is absolutely delightful for readers of all ages–it’s like a long-form fairytale that middle-grade readers will enjoy on its face, and that adult readers will love because it has the diversity we never got to see in our own childhood stories.
My Review

King of the Rising

Author: Kacen Callender
Series: Islands of Blood and Storm (#2)
Genre: adult dark fantasy
Ace rep: aromantic asexual main character
More: This character’s asexuality is rooted in past trauma, and this book comes with a LOT of trigger warnings, including torture, racism, colonialism, suicide, rape, and mind-control. It is wonderfully written, but take care of yourself. This is also the second book in a duology; the ace character is a side character in book 1 but becomes the narrator in book 2.
My Review

Tarnished Are the Stars

Author: Rosiee Thor
Genre: YA sci-fi
Ace rep: aromantic asexual main character
More: Honestly, I felt like this book as a whole was kind of “meh” (the audiobook was particularly…not great). However, the ace rep was GREAT, very relatable–and the terms “asexual” and “aromantic” are actually used by the characters. Plus, this is quite literally an ace in space, so that’s fun.
My Review (audiobook mini-review)

Books with Ace Side Characters:

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home

Authors: Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Genre: adult fantasy/horror/alternate-history/seriously I don’t know how to categorize it
Ace rep: aromantic asexual side character
More: I just love that the ace character here is a total social butterfly who just doesn’t feel romantic or sexual attraction and is totally happy with his life choices. He also forms some really close friendships with people, which I think is hugely important in normalizing the fact that aces aren’t just “shy” or “closed-off to human connection” or other such nonsense.

Some people will be uncertain about picking up this book since it is sometimes marked as part of the Welcome to Night Vale series, but even if you don’t listen to the podcast or haven’t read any of the other books, this one can easily stand on its own.
My Review

Unspeakable: A Queer Gothic Anthology

Editor: Celia Frohm
Genre: gothic fantasy anthology
Ace rep: sapphic ace main characters in one story, romantic ace main character in another story
More: This is a full anthology with a lot of stories, and only two of them have ace rep. But I will say, one of them literally involves an ace guy who is visited by a succubus, and the succubus is understandably very confused, and it’s a pretty great time.
My Review

Ironspark

Author: C.M. McGuire
Genre: YA contemporary fantasy
Ace rep: romantic asexual side character
More: While this character’s sexuality doesn’t play a very big role, he discusses it very frankly with the two main characters in a scene (admittedly, a slightly random one) where all three clarify their sexual identities with each other.
My Review

Sorcery of Thorns

Author: Margaret Rogerson
Genre: YA fantasy
Ace rep: asexual secondary main character, ace-spectrum side character (OwnVoices)
More: These characters’ asexuality is not really focused on and is easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. However, the author is ace and has confirmed that she wrote those characters as ace-coded on purpose. And once you’re aware of it, it’s actually pretty obvious!

Catfishing on CatNet

Author: Naomi Kritzer
Series: CatNet (#1)
Genre: YA mystery/sci-fi
Ace rep: asexual side character
More: This character’s asexuality is just mentioned in passing. Still, it’s nice to see it acknowledged (especially in a book with tons of other queer rep, too!).
My Review

Still on My TBR…

This Golden Flame

Author: Emily Victoria
Genre: YA fantasy

Loveless

Author: Alice Oseman
Genre: YA contemporary

Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Author: Kathryn Ormsbee
Genre: YA contemporary

Catch Lili Too

Author: Sophie Whittemore
Genre: adult paranormal/urban fantasy

Protector of the Small (series)

Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: MG/YA fantasy
Note: I actually read this series back in middle school, but that was before I realized I was ace, and the main character’s asexuality totally went over my head. I’m think due for a reread of all of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books, this series included!

And one ace book that gets a big ole “nope” from me…

Let’s Talk About Love

Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Author: Claire Kann
Genre: YA contemporary
More: I had a lot of issues with this book, both as a whole (the plot was nonexistent, characters were annoying, lots of toxic behaviors were dismissed as okay) and with regards to the ace rep specifically–it perpetuated a lot of problematic stereotypes about asexuality, including the “aces are super immature especially in relationships” thing and the “aces make their sexuality the sole focal point of their identity and personality” thing. Just read my whole rant-review of it–some of the writing might be kind of rough, but I just had so many feelings to get out. I know some people love this one, and I’m not trying to discredit their feelings. For me, though, it really rubbed me the wrong way, and I would not endorse it.

That’s all for now!

What do you think–any of these books on your TBR? Have you read any of them? Got any favorite ace books that I missed on this list? Want to see more asexuality-focused content from me? Please, leave a comment and let me know!

As always,
Kathryn (“K-Specks”)

5 thoughts on “All About That Ace: books with great asexual representation!

  1. Maddy January 31, 2021 / 8:16 am

    Thanks for this list! I don’t really like reading fantasy, but I really enjoyed a Loveless. I’ve also read Let’s Talk About Love. I thought it was okay but not great. What I liked best about it was the intersectionality of her race and sexuality since ace communities are usually predominantly white. I read Summer Bird Blue as well which has an ace main character. I think it was meant for slightly younger teens but it was good. I really like reading romance even though I’m ace so I read a bunch of YA and new adult books in general!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathryn Speckels February 3, 2021 / 11:29 am

      Yeah, one thing I’ve noticed lately that is kind of disappointing is that SO MUCH ace rep is just in sci-fi/fantasy, or else in YA contemporary. I would love to see more asexual characters in adult books and in more genres in general; I feel like it’s frustrating that there’s this implication that we only exist as teenagers or in worlds that aren’t even real. While I’m a big fan of fantasy, I know a lot of people aren’t, so more variety in story type would be nice.

      Someone else mentioned Summer Bird Blue to me recently, so I definitely want to check it out! (And I’m with you to an extent on romances–I don’t like when they’re unnecessarily shoehorned into stories, and stories with lots of gratuitous sex are typically not my favorite, but diverse romcoms are a subset I’ve found myself REALLY enjoying lately!)

      Like

  2. Jess @ Jessticulates February 2, 2021 / 2:53 am

    I love this list so much! I feel so torn about The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy; some of the author’s behaviour has been so frustrating, so for now I’m not reading anything else by her, but I have to agree that this is one of the best representations of asexuality and aromanticism I’ve seen and I loved following a girl gang.

    I haven’t seen anyone mention that there is ace rep in Elatsoe, so now I want to read it even more! So many of these are on my TBR and I’m really looking forward to the Common Bonds anthology, which I think is coming out in April. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathryn Speckels February 3, 2021 / 11:24 am

      Yeah, I totally feel you on Mackenzi Lee. I really want to read Nobleman’s Guide when it comes out this year, because I want more of Monty and Felicity, but I don’t want to give her the money currently. Such a frustrating predicament.

      And yes, the main character in Elatsoe is totally out and proud aro-ace! She talks about it several times with her friends, just casually, and I love it so much.

      I hadn’t heard about the Common Bonds anthology, but guess I need to look that one up now and add it to my TBR as well 🙂

      Like

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