Ace Reads 2: Electric Boogaloo (10 more books with asexual representation!)

Hello, friends! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything on here that is actually from me, as opposed to a review or tour. But with 2022 officially underway, I wanted to do a brief recap of some of my 2021 reading. Apparently, my list of all the ace books I’ve read so far got super popular near the end of last year (if anyone knows how/why it took off, please let me know, because I’m as surprised as you). This past year, I read ten more books with asexual representation, and so, staying true to the format of that old post, I wanted to share those with you as well!

Obligatory disclaimer: while I am ace (and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum–labels are confusing, man), and therefore am an OwnVoices reviewer for this type of content, the ace experience is not a monolith. I try to keep my assessments of these books as objective as possible, but in my final “notes” on each of them (especially on the quality of representation), I’m purely expressing my own opinion. If you felt differently about any of them, feel free to comment and let me know!

On a related note, part of my reading goal for 2022 is to read at least 15 books with ace representation (for any and all ace spectrum identities, including demi, gray-ace, and so on). If you have any I haven’t read yet and want to suggest some for me, I’m always looking for more.

Main Characters

Loveless

Author: Alice Oseman
Genre: YA/NA contemporary
Ace rep: aromantic asexual main character, asexual side character; ace author
More: This is it, the best ace rep I’ve ever read. I felt so seen by this book. It uses the terms “aromantic” and “asexual” on-page and actually chronicles the main character’s realization of her asexuality.
My Review

Vespertine

Author: Margaret Rogerson
Genre: YA fantasy
Ace rep: aromantic asexual main character, two ace-spectrum side characters; ace author
More: Though the ace rep in this book is subtle so far and not identified by name, the author confirmed on her Tumblr HERE that she wrote three ace characters in this book, including the protagonist. (She had another, longer post about it, but that post appears to have been deleted; the URL I saved for it does not work anymore.) The main character does not have any romantic involvements with anyone throughout the story.

This Golden Flame

Author: Emily Victoria
Genre: YA fantasy
Ace rep: aromantic asexual main character
More: The main character’s asexuality is stated pretty explicitly at the beginning (or at least explained; the term “asexual” isn’t used, since this is a fantasy world, but it’s clear that’s what it is). It isn’t mentioned much throughout the rest of the book, but the main character never has any romantic interests, and nobody gives her a hard time about it, so I think it all works quite well.
My Review

The Love Hypothesis

Author: Ali Hazelwood
Genre: adult contemporary romance
Ace rep: demisexual main character
More: This was such a cute romcom with plenty of witty banter. It is never explicitly stated that the main character is demisexual (and I’ll admit, I am miffed at the fact that the word isn’t used), but it does outright say she can only experience sexual attraction toward someone after she trusts them deeply (which is the definition of demisexuality). For anyone who is sex-repulsed, note that there is one explicit, rather lengthy sex scene in this book.
My Review

Novellas & Short Stories

All Systems Red

Author: Martha Wells
Series: The Murderbot Diaries (#1)
Genre: science fiction (novella)
Ace rep: aromantic asexual main character
More: I know what you’re thinking: a robot doesn’t count for an ace character, stereotype problems, etc., etc., but hear me out. Murderbot is anything but a stereotype. It is partially organic, and it has a lot of feelings–platonic caring, social anxiety, and more. It also talks at one point about how it doesn’t understand the sexual parts on TV shows, and how it is pretty sure that even with the right anatomy for that, it wouldn’t be interested in it anyway.

That Way Madness Lies

Editor: Dahlia Adler
Genre: YA Shakespeare retellings
Number of ace stories: 2, detailed below

“Shipwrecked”

Author: Mark Oshiro
Genre: YA contemporary
Ace rep: romantic asexual secondary character
More: This is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The term “asexual” is not used (to my recollection), but the character describes how she is interested in romance but not sex, in an “I don’t experience that kind of attraction” way. I thought it was a very fitting reimagining of the character from the original.

“Some Other Metal”

Authors: Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy
Genre: YA science fiction
Ace rep: demisexual main character
More: This one is a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, and truth be told, I can’t remember if it used the word “demisexual” or just described it. [If someone has read this more recently and could confirm for me whether they use the word or not, I would super appreciate it–I read a library copy, so I don’t have it readily available to check.] Regardless, it was pretty obvious what the rep was, and I enjoyed it.

Side Characters

In the Ravenous Dark

Author: A.M. Strickland
Genre: YA/NA fantasy (straddles the border between the two)
Ace rep: romantic asexual secondary character; ace author
More: The ace character in this book is a major flirt, and also the most fabulous and fashionable nonbinary person out there, which is a nice break from the all-too-common “awkward ace” trope. They’re a loyal friend, and their asexuality is respected by all the other characters. The word “asexual” isn’t used, since this is a fantasy world, but it is clearly described. Note that this book does have two sex scenes, though both are brief, and neither involves the ace character.

One to Watch

Author: Kate Stayman-London
Genre: adult contemporary/romance
Ace rep: aromantic asexual secondary character
More: This book is a riff on the Bachelorette franchise, so the ace rep was unexpected, but it was handled very well and respectfully–it somehow managed to avoid the trap of making the ace character a cold/aloof/awkward stereotype, opting instead to make the character very warm and likable. It does explicitly use the words “asexual” and “aromantic.”

A Sisterhood of Secret Ambitions

Author: Sheena Boekweg
Genre: young adult alternate historical fiction
Ace rep: aromantic asexual side character
More: Honestly, I felt like the ace rep in this book was a little more of a plot device than anything–a way to get one girl out of the running for the heart of this man they’re all trying to win over. It wasn’t bad rep (and it’s cool that it used the words “asexual” and “aromantic), but I don’t think it was handled perfectly either. Take a look at my review for a more thorough explanation.
My Review

Nonfiction

Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Sexuality, and the Meaning of Sex

Author: Angela Chen
Genre: nonfiction, social science
Ace rep: the book is literally about asexuality; demisexual author; includes interviews with many ace-spectrum individuals
More: This book generally does a strong job of explaining asexuality in a way that is easy to understand, even for those unfamiliar with asexuality, making it a good crash-course for allosexual (non-ace) allies. It also has a lot of insights on intersectional asexuality, so even those well-versed in ace discourse could probably find something new to learn from it. However, it does have some shortcomings; this Goodreads review (not mine, but I agree with most of its points) covers a lot of them, and I’ll try to put my thoughts up soon as well. Overall, it is an informative read, but I do caution that its casual incorrect use of terminology and sweeping generalizations might end up being upsetting or feel invalidating to some readers.

Bonus: Podcast (fiction)

The Bright Sessions

Author/Creator: Lauren Shippen
Genre: science fiction (or soft fantasy)
Ace rep: panromantic asexual main character
More: I’m including this podcast in a list of books because, as a scripted show, it really feels like a high quality, full cast audiobook with sound effects. One of the four original main characters is ace. This is mentioned a few times, and it does include explicit use of the word “asexuality.” The character’s asexuality is respected by her friends and is totally normalized–and it does not at any point overshadow her development as a character or her role in the story.

That’s all for now!

Read any of these? Adding them to your TBR? Got any ace books you think are must-reads for me this year? Leave a comment and let me know–and stay tuned as I continue my quest to read more ace books in 2022!

8 thoughts on “Ace Reads 2: Electric Boogaloo (10 more books with asexual representation!)

  1. Kristina January 10, 2022 / 2:31 pm

    Oh, I didn’t knew the love hypothesis had a ace-spectrum character! Good to know; loveless have been on my list for so long- justdidn’t felt in the right mood for it yet 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathryn Speckels January 10, 2022 / 5:00 pm

      Yep! The main character in it is demisexual. It annoys me a little that the author doesn’t use the word itself, but explicitly says that (a) the main character used to wonder if she was asexual, and (b) she doesn’t feel sexual attraction until she has a deep emotional bond with a person (which is literally the definition of demisexual). But I do love that the book has become so popular–good exposure, even if they don’t realize it, plus it is just a very enjoyable book to read! 😊

      And I hope that you enjoy Loveless when you get the chance to read it! I’m not usually a big re-reader, but I’m thinking I might read it again this year, honestly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kristina January 10, 2022 / 5:46 pm

        Yeah, definitely! It’s a good thing that I didn’t knew about- despite all the rage i’ve read about the toxic dynamic of the relationship.. (power imbalance mainly); now thanks to you i’m quite eager to get to pick it up again!

        Oh that’s good to hear! it’s just the type of books that the synopsis leaves me kinda “eeeeh….” and im not sure I wanna dive into it thinking I fear not liking it 😅

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kathryn Speckels January 10, 2022 / 11:06 pm

        Ah, gotcha! With regard to The Love Hypothesis, they do actually talk in the book about the question of whether it is an ethical issue for them to be dating–it is tricky, because he is a professor and she is a grad student, but he has no role whatsoever in her research (and therefore has no actual power over her), and also they originally were just *pretending* to date each other, and each of them was getting something out of that. It’s one that I guess folks will decide for themselves, but the book doesn’t just ignore it at least.

        And as to Loveless…idk, if it doesn’t sound like one you’d enjoy, then obviously don’t read it (life is too short to read books you don’t like!) but if you want to give it a shot, it’s a girl realizing she is aroace when she leaves for university–basically an ace version of the many, many books out there where a character realizes he’s gay and then comes out and comes into his own. I found it incredibly relatable, the main character’s friends are great, and it really drives home the message that love doesn’t have to be a romance thing, friendships are just as valuable, etc. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kristina January 11, 2022 / 12:07 am

        Thank you for the explanations!
        I’m usually not good with power imbalances/age differences.. but as this one is with two adults, i’m hoping it’d be less bad for me. While it’s good it doesn’t just ignore it, the one review ive read was talking about an important rule related to that that kept being made fun of.. and not really asking for consent which isn’t cool. I did bought it before I read that review, so we’ll see! 😅

        See- the concept of the book sounds really great! As im also questioning asexuality, id love to see the great rep ive been hearing about everywhere; the synopsis just.. really doesn’t help me about that, as it seems just blend. I might finally take the plundge and get it from my library this year!

        Like

  2. Lauren May 19, 2022 / 6:15 pm

    I recently read a book with an aro ace main character. Immoral Code by Lillian Clark. It was pretty fun it’s a high school oceans 8 vibe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathryn Speckels June 26, 2022 / 1:06 am

      Ooh, that sounds fantastic! Love me a good heist story. If you want more ace heist books, there’s one coming out this fall called Aces Wild by Amanda DeWitt–I’m reading an ARC of it right now and really enjoying it so far!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s