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08 September 2011 @ 01:52 pm
Science Fiction and Fantasy YA novels with Major LGBTQ characters  
Note: This list is intended as a resource. It is not intended to express opinions on the quality, authenticity, or positivity of the portrayals of the characters in the books. The compilers of the list have not read all the books on it. Commentary is by Rachel Manija Brown and reflects her opinions on the books as literature. Please use your own judgment in deciding which books you wish to support. Title links go to Amazon.

These were the criteria used to compile the list: 1) The book must be science fiction or fantasy or otherwise not realism, and must have been published, either originally in reprint, as YA, 2) It must contain at least one major LGBTQ character who is clearly identified as such within the book itself. (Dumbledore doesn’t count), 3) Major is defined as having a POV and/or a storyline of their own and/or lots of page-time.

Wolfcry (The Kiesha'ra), by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Epic fantasy, the fourth in a series. This book follows a princess pressured to choose a suitable husband in order to save her kingdom from war. Her decision is spoilery, but, well, there's a reason this book is on the list. ;)

Vintage: A Ghost Story, by Steve Berman. A moving, atmospheric atmospheric ghost story with a gay hero. 1/5 of the royalties from Vintage will be donated to charities helping gay teens.

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale; Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie (Modern Faerie Tale); Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale (Modern Faerie Tale), by Holly Black. These gritty, engrossing urban fantasies are connected, but can be read independently. All feature major gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters.

Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books, by Francesca Lia Block. A compilation of several connected novels, all extremely quirky magic realism set in a magical Los Angeles. All the books have major gay characters, and they are the protagonists of Baby Be-Bop.

The Rose and The Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, by Francesca Lia Block. An anthology of re-told fairytales, many with lesbian protagonists.

Above, by Leah Bobet. An upcoming fantasy with an intersexed character who identifies as genderqueer.

A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy), by Libba Bray. A fantasy Victorian boarding school series with major lesbian characters.

The Demon's Lexicon series, by Sarah Rees Brennan. Fast-paced, witty contemporary fantasy. One of the five main characters is gay.

Fire, by Kristin Cashore. In this thoughtful, well-characterized take on the fantasy trope of the perfect heroine, human “monster” Fire’s beauty and psychic powers are more of a curse than a blessing. Fire is bisexual.

Marked: A House of Night Novel series, by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast. A contemporary fantasy about a boarding school for teenage vampires. Several important supporting characters are gay.

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments), by Cassandra Clare. Urban fantasy series with major gay characters.

Aisling Book One: Guardian series, by Carole Cummings. Epic fantasy with gay protagonists.

A Strong and Sudden Thaw, by R. W. Day. Ice age apocalypse with gay heroes fighting prejudice and dragons.

The Dark Wife, by Sarah Diemer. A gorgeous re-telling of the myth of Hades and Persephone as a consensual lesbian romance with a gender-switched Hades.

Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins, by Emma Donoghue. An anthology of re-told fairytales, many with lesbian protagonists.

Eon, by Alison Goodman. In a China-esque world, a girl disguises herself as a boy to learn dragon magic. Her mentor is transgendered.

Gone, by Michael Grant. Everyone over the age of 13 vanishes, and the remaining kids begin to acquire strange powers. A major character is a lesbian.

Unnatural (Archangel Academy) series, by Michael Griffo. Boarding school, vampires, and gay romance.

Shadow Walkers, by Brent Hartinger. Teenage Zach discovers that he can astral project – an ability which comes in handy when his brother is kidnapped. Zach is gay, and has a romance with a boy he meets on the astral plane.

Hex Hall Book One, by Rachel Hawkins. A supernatural boarding school comedy. A major character is a lesbian vampire.

The Shattering, by Karen Healey. An intense fantasy thriller set in New Zealand. Great characterization of a racially diverse cast. One of the main characters qualifies the book for the list, but it’s spoilery to say who and how.

Guardian of the Dead, by Karen Healey. An ambitious urban fantasy making thoughtful use of Maori folklore. A major supporting character is asexual.

Magic's Pawn (The Last Herald-Mage Series, Book 1), by Mercedes Lackey. A highly influential and widely beloved fantasy series about Vanyel, a young gay man, who becomes a Herald Mage. Note: These books have never been published as YA, though many readers feel that they are, and guidelines for writing in the shared universe also indicate that they are YA. But the books themselves have only ever been published as adult fantasy. It is my belief that this is due to Vanyel's sexual orientation.

Liar, by Justine Larbalestier. The heroine of this intense, twisty novel is a compulsive liar, so its presence on the list is debatable in more ways than one, depending on which of Micah’s stories you believe.

The Silver Metal Lover, by Tanith Lee. Lush romantic science fiction about a shy, awkward girl and what it says on the tin. A major supporting character is gay.

Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan. A romantic comedy set in a town in which homophobia does not exist, and the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl. I’m counting it as a fantasy on the grounds that it’s set in an alternate universe.

Ash, by Malinda Lo. A well-written re-telling of Cinderella in which she falls for the King’s Huntress rather than the prince.

Huntress, by Malinda Lo. A quest fantasy set in a China-inspired fantasy world, with a sweet romance and some quite beautiful passages. The heroines are lesbians.

Wicked Lovely (Wicked Lovely (Quality)) series, by Melissa Marr. Urban fantasy with major bisexual characters.

Hero, by Perry Moore. A sweet, funny, exuberant superhero parody/homage with a gay hero.

Libyrinth series, by Pearl North. Haly is a Libyrarian, one of a group of people dedicated to preserving and protecting the knowledge passed down from the Ancients and stored in the endless maze of books known as the Libyrinth. But Haly has a secret: The books speak to her. One of the two POV characters is a lesbian.

The End, by Nora Olsen. When World War Three breaks out, seventeen-year-old Julia is on a school trip to Amsterdam, while fourteen-year-old Marly is trapped in a prison for delinquent girls. All the main characters are LGBTQ.

The Will Of The Empress (Circle Continues), by Tamora Pierce. An excellent, well-characterized imaginary-world fantasy with an ensemble cast, one of whom is a lesbian. It’s the latest book in the “Circle of Magic” series. Daja hasn’t figured out her sexual orientation yet in the earlier books, which begin when the young mages are ten, but they should be read in order. Early books feature a sympathetic adult lesbian couple.

Tripping to Somewhere, by Kristopher Reisz. It's everyone's glittery fantasy turned real: to follow the Carnival's mystic band of beautiful people as they defy every limit and dance through history -- all in search of a good time. The heroine is a lesbian. This has gotten stellar reviews.

Heart Sense series, by K. L. Richardsson. An imaginary world fantasy with a gay hero.

Water Seekers, by Michelle Rode. Post-apocalyptic sf with an LGBTQ protagonist.

Gemini Bites, by Patrick Ryan. A comic love triangle ensues when a pair of twins (one boy, one girl) both fall for the boy who moves in with them…who may or may not be a vampire.

The Tenth Man, by Tamara Sheehan. Saul Hornsby is the last magician living in Verusa. Fantasy with a gay hero.

Cursebusters!, by Julie Smith. Budding-psychic Reeno is the most accomplished teenage burglar in California, but one tiny screw-up and poof!—she's sentenced to Bad Girl School. A lesbian paranormal adventure.

Banshee, by Hayden Thorne. A Victorian ghost story with a gay hero.

Masks Rise of Heroes series, by Hayden Thorne. Superhero adventure series with a gay hero.

Frozen (Cold Awakening), by Robin Wasserman. (Formerly Skinned.) Lia is reborn into an artificial body after her real one was destroyed in an accident. Major lesbian and bisexual characters.

Witch Eyes, by Scott Tracey. Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. A paranormal romance with a gay hero.

Frozen (Cold Awakening), by Robin Wasserman. (Formerly Skinned.) Lia is reborn into an artificial body after her real one was destroyed in an accident. Major lesbian and bisexual characters.

Generation Dead, by Daniel Waters. Phoebe Kendall is just your typical Goth girl with a crush. He’s strong and silent…and dead. A major character is a lesbian (and a zombie). She becomes a POV protagonist in the third book, Passing Strange, which goes into her life pre- and post-death.

The Obsidian Man, by Jon Wilson. All his life, Holt has dreamed of leaving his life of drudgery to join the legendary Danann, a mysterious race of rangers and magicians. Fantasy with a gay protagonist.
 
 
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( 103 comments — Leave a comment )
Michael M Jonesoneminutemonkey on September 8th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC)
In Daniel Waters' Generation Dead series, one of the major supporting characters is a lesbian (and a zombie). She becomes a POV protagonist in the third book, Passing Strange, which goes into her life pre- and post-death. She is awesome.

Rachel Hawkins' Hex Hall series has a lesbian (and vampire) supporting character who has some decent screen time, and who even picks up a girlfriend along the way.

A great list. Some books I hadn't heard of, and will keep my eyes open for.
tanuki_green: Partytanuki_green on September 8th, 2011 09:53 pm (UTC)
Cool! Thanks for those. I'll pass them along to Rachel.
(no subject) - rachelmanija on September 8th, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pith on September 9th, 2011 12:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
shuttergalshuttergal on September 8th, 2011 11:24 pm (UTC)
Don't forget Portland's own Sara Ryan's Rules for Hearts and EMpress of the WOrld
http://sararyan.com/
Rachel M Brownrachelmanija on September 9th, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
Are they science fiction or fantasy?
(no subject) - shuttergal on September 9th, 2011 01:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
Trialiatrialia on September 8th, 2011 11:35 pm (UTC)
Actually, Tamora Pierce's Rosethorn (Circle series) is bisexual, she's just in a lesbian relationship with Lark, who is a lesbian. I think that's WoG.
Foxfirem_a_foxfire on September 13th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC)
I think Briar mentioned their respective orientations casually after meeting Daja's girlfriend.

"Do you fancy just girls like Lark or both like Rosethorn?" or something to that effect.
(no subject) - trialia on September 14th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - trialia on September 16th, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
trektone: headshottrektone on September 9th, 2011 03:01 am (UTC)
Thank you for this list! I don't read a lot of YA, but I've read a bunch of these.

Edited at 2011-09-09 03:01 am (UTC)
mlerulesmlerules on September 9th, 2011 04:54 am (UTC)
Thx for this.
mlerules: rainbow fistmlerules on September 9th, 2011 04:55 am (UTC)
Oh, would you mind if'n I were to pass this along/repost/link?
Rachel M Brownrachelmanija on September 9th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
Feel free to link! Please don't copy and re-post.

Edited at 2011-09-09 05:41 pm (UTC)
Amanada (rhymes with Canada): lo the transforming powwe of lovemandasarah on September 10th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
Man, this is what happens when you've been out of school for too long, your reading comprehension skills start to slip. The person who liked me didn't mention the YA-ness of this list and I skipped right over it when I read the. Post. My bad. In that case, ny only suggestion that applies is the Tamora Pierce one, so I'll keep that and delete everything else.

Still love the list, thanks for doing it!

The second book of Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper trilogy features a transgendered supporting character.

Edited at 2011-09-13 02:27 pm (UTC)
SnowCat: Rent - kiss mesnowcat48 on September 12th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar world, specifically The Last Herald Mage Trilogy. (http://www.amazon.com/Magics-Pawn-Last-Herald-Mage-Book/dp/0886773520/) Lead character Vanyel is homosexual. Other books in world have lesbian couples, one poly (off the top of my head) and many variations. Handled matter-of-factly.
CarolineDirtyCarrie on September 12th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
@snowcat484 lol Great minds, hm?
(no subject) - snowcat48 on September 12th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
CarolineDirtyCarrie on September 12th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
Magic's Paw, Magic's Promise, and Magic's Price by Mercedes Lackey feature a gay main character.

In fact, that particular character shapes most the of Valdemar series, especially the Arrows of the Queen trilogy, and there are many other lgbtq characters both major and minor in the universe.
Rachel M Brown: Unicorn emotionsrachelmanija on September 12th, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC)
Attention Valdemar fans!
Those books were not published as YA. They were published as adult fantasy. If you can find a YA edition, I'll put it on the list, but otherwise, groundbreaking and influential as they were, they are disqualified. Sorry!
sarasarastar43 on September 12th, 2011 10:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Attention Valdemar fans!
They were in the YA section of my library, that doesn't count? :)
Re: Attention Valdemar fans! - rachelmanija on September 12th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Attention Valdemar fans! - snowcat48 on September 12th, 2011 11:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Attention Valdemar fans! - microgirl on September 12th, 2011 10:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Attention Valdemar fans! - rachelmanija on September 12th, 2011 10:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Attention Valdemar fans! - mariness on September 13th, 2011 03:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Attention Valdemar fans! - holyschist on September 18th, 2011 01:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Attention Valdemar fans! - DDragonDesigns on September 13th, 2011 08:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Attention Valdemar fans! - mzmadmike on September 13th, 2011 02:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Ship Of Foolssaiyengirl on September 12th, 2011 10:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this! I have been looking for more of this literature (and it's so awesome to see Holly Black, Libba Bray and Cassandra Clare on here. Their books are just amazing.)
Sarahmicrogirl on September 12th, 2011 10:22 pm (UTC)
I notice no mention is made of Mercedes Lackey's "Last Herald-Mage" trilogy. I know it's an old trilogy, but to me it's one of the most quintessential LGBTQ YA series out there. It changed the lives of more than one friend of mine, when they read the books and realised that actually, fancying your own sex was apparently a thing, and they weren't imagining it. Or weird.

Vanyel Ashkevron is just one of my most-loved characters ever.
starsplit144starsplit144 on September 12th, 2011 11:34 pm (UTC)
Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling. It may or may not be YA, I'm not sure, but one of the main characters is in his late teens and is bi. One of the major themes of the first few books is his discovery of this, and the major parts of the world itself have a fairly accepting view of various sexualities.

I'll also second the Valdemar books.
ellidellid on September 14th, 2011 11:22 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure these aren't YA, but Alec's realization of who and what he is figures heavily in the first two books. There's also Flewelling's Tamir Triad, which features a girl who has to be disguised as a boy (literally) to save her from a murderous king. Not only is the lead character effectively transsexual, several major supporting characters are gay.
Oliver LeonInkwrite on September 13th, 2011 12:07 am (UTC)
Note to self: one day, write a fantasy novel with a trans* main character. :)
Jain: domestic dragonjain on September 13th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
Re: The Silver Metal Lover. I'd say that Silver is arguably bisexual or demisexual or both.
pd_singer: impossiblepd_singer on September 13th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
The Aisling series from Carole Cummings. Books 1 and 2 are available now, book 3 is due in December. Marvelously written epic fantasy, it's in print and ebook.
adorKablefaeadorkablefae on September 13th, 2011 02:39 am (UTC)
Excellent. I have a lot of these books/series. <3

Not my favorite, but the House of Night books by P.C and Kristen Cast have a few major supporting characters that are gay or lesbian... In fact, everyone in the book is all very accepting and half of them experiment in one way or another, it seems, but not in a brushing it off way, just in an inclusive and accepting way. It's not about that, there just happen to be gay characters just like in real life. I love books that dont draw undo attention to the gay characters, but are just very real about it. Anyway, I thought it was worth a mention.

Now I'm wracking my brain, because I've read a lot of LGBT fiction and fantasy, but its just not coming to mind now.

Oh, old school, but Anne McCafreys Dragon Riders of Pern books have not too few mentions of gay characters, but I'm not positive any of them are ever in a major story line. But if anyone is interested, they're fantastic books and are at the very least GLBT friendly reads. Ooo, there'd be a good list for another time...

Anyway, great list. I hope to see this list grow and grow and grow <3
ellidellid on September 14th, 2011 11:24 am (UTC)
McCaffrey herself has some very, very odd ideas about homosexuality, plus there are some really problematic "love"/rape scenes. The first few are very good, but I'd really hesitate to include them on this list.
(no subject) - sixcylinders on September 14th, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pinkpenguin763 on September 20th, 2011 03:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
April M. Richardskillerhippie466 on September 13th, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
Thank you
I am going to try and read some if not all of these books (Egags, more books!!! Tell my family not to see my face for a while) Thank you!
geekittyfallenrose on September 13th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
Wolfcry
In Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' Kiesha'ra Series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Atwater-Rhodes), the forth book, Wolfcry, follows a princess pressured to choose a suitable husband in order to save her kingdom from war. Spoiler:
She ultimately chooses to decline the throne and be with the woman she loves instead, forcing her people to deal with their issues and not through a forced, unhappy marriage. It's dealt with pretty positively.

The rest of the books are focused on heterosexual characters, though - at least so far.
Magpie Driftwood: Books - Pierce - Roger & Alannaskjaere on September 13th, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
You've got Tammy Pierce's "The Will of the Empress" on here, but I'd also suggest adding her Beka Cooper trilogy. While Beka herself is straight, the supporting cast has several positive portrayals of LGBTQ characters, including a trans woman in the second book (third book still forthcoming). In fact, almost all of Tammy's books have at least implied queer characters.

(My goal in life is to write a book that you would want to include on this list.)
starsplit144starsplit144 on September 13th, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
You do have Lalasa and Tian in the Kel books, but they are pretty minor. In the original draft of the Alanna books, Thom was gay, Roger way bi and they were sleeping together, and Tammy says that as far as she is convinced that still happens, although it never explicitly states it. So just generally anything by her is a good idea - the characters in the older books are more implied, but the characters are fairly explicit in the more recently written books.
milurie on September 13th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
Diane Duane's Young Wizards series features gay couple Tom Swale and Carl Romeo, senior wizards and advisors to the protagonists. In the Middle Kingdom novels, all of the major characters are bisexual; one (a fire elemental) manifests as male or female, according to hir whim, and polyamory and group marriage are the norm.
Trialiatrialia on September 16th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
Oh my. You like YW and River Song? (And Discworld too, from your profile?) Do you mind if I add you? :D
(no subject) - milurie on September 20th, 2011 03:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - trialia on September 20th, 2011 08:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
Muccamukk: Greymuccamukk on September 13th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
Libyrinth by Pearl North is distopian sci fi with two PoV characters, and one of them is a lesbian.
Profiterole: Nightrunner - Seregil and Alec_profiterole_ on September 13th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the lists, I reblogged them. I have a few of these books, Ash in particular is a wonderful read.
Angie BaugherAngie Baugher on September 13th, 2011 11:27 pm (UTC)
materials selection list
i purchase teen books for my public library branch and will make sure that at least half of these are on my shelves.
Rachel M Brown: Buffy: I kind of love yourachelmanija on September 13th, 2011 11:52 pm (UTC)
Re: materials selection list
Fantastic! That will make a real difference. (Don't forget to check out the lists of YA with protagonists of color, too.)
Sister Atom Bomb of Courteous Debateakiko on September 13th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
In jimhines' Princess books, Talia is queer.
( 103 comments — Leave a comment )
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