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The Best YA Science Fiction & Fantasy with LGBTQ+ Characters

The Best YA Science Fiction & Fantasy with LGBTQ+ Characters

Representation is an important thing, and YA readers understand this deeply. That’s why a lot of YA books tackle issues and stories revolving around the LGBTQ+ community. And of all genres, science fiction and fantasy are the genres that are ripe and rich for helping writers represent, and for helping readers understand the struggles and the beauty of the YA LGBTQ+ community. In this list, you’ll find some of the best YA SFF books with LGBTQ+ characters – main characters, supporting characters, but heroes, one and all. So sit back, relax, and check out the list! Who knows, maybe you’ll find your next favorite book!

Ash by Malinda Lo

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

What do the readers say?

“I love a good cover, I love a good fairy-tale retelling, and I love me some diversity, as I’ve been through the higher education political correctness track, so you must imagine my excitement over a re-telling of Cinderella with lesbians and handsome fairy men!” – April, Amazon user (4 stars)

Huntress by Malinda Lo

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

What do the readers say?

“Throughout, romantic tension mingles with action and adventure and the end throws in a good twist. My biggest complaint is that I want more! Lo has said that she plans to publish a short story set two years after Huntress online, but I will undoubtedly want more. Ash and Huntress have a similar style but there are some significant differences between the two worlds (or rather, the two eras of the same world) and I would love more stories of how that develops.” – Rachel W., Amazon user (5 stars)

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

Her life by the sea in ruins, Pen has lost everything in the Earth Shaker that all but destroyed the city of Los Angeles. She sets out into the wasteland to search for her family, her journey guided by a tattered copy of Homer’s Odyssey. Soon she begins to realize her own abilities and strength as she faces false promises of safety, the cloned giants who feast on humans, and a madman who wishes her dead. On her voyage, Pen learns to tell stories that reflect her strange visions, while she and her fellow survivors navigate the dangers that lie in wait. 

What do the readers say?

“This book is among the most beautifully written stories I have ever read. I am so impressed with the lyrical imagery, descriptions, language….I think i could start over right now and read this again just for the beauty of the words.” – Kindle customer (5 stars)

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend Kevin, she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy, and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. 

But then everything changes. The news headlines are all abuzz about a local string of serial killings that all share the same morbid trademark: the victims were discovered with their eyes missing. Then a beautiful yet eerie woman enters Ellie’s circle of friends and develops an unhealthy fascination with Kevin, and a crazed old man grabs Ellie in a public square and shoves a tattered Bible into her hands, exclaiming, “You need it. It will save your soul.” Soon, Ellie finds herself plunged into a haunting world of vengeful fairies, Maori mythology, romance, betrayal, and an epic battle for immortality.

What do the readers say?

“Guardian of the Dead is everything I want to see in a Chick Lit Wednesday book and Ellie is everything I want in a heroine. Filled with mythology, action, wit, and even some romance Guardian of the Dead is a charmer that will leave you thinking even while it leaves you with a smile.” – Miss Print, Amazon user (5 stars)

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough? 

What do the readers say?

“This is a superbly-written fairy tale adventure romance and it’s filled with gorgeous, gorgeous prose. The characters are richly drawn and unique. The plot chugs along swiftly, but not at the expense of character dynamics and relationships. An excellent, excellent book!” – RedheadHeroines, Amazon user (5 stars)


Lord of the White Hell by Ginn Hale

Kiram Kir-Zaki may be considered a mechanist prodigy among his own people, but when he becomes the first Haldiim ever admitted to the prestigious Sagrada Academy, he is thrown into a world where power, superstition and swordplay outweigh even the most scholarly of achievements.

But when the intimidation from his Cadeleonian classmates turns bloody, Kiram unexpectedly finds himself befriended by Javier Tornesal, the leader of a group of cardsharps, duelists and lotharios who call themselves Hellions. 

However Javier is a dangerous friend to have. Wielder of the White Hell and sole heir of a dukedom, he is surrounded by rumors of forbidden seductions, murder and damnation. His enemies are many and any one of his secrets could not only end his life but Kiram’s as well.

What do the readers say?

“I really loved how Ginn Hale took a great care in developing our protagonists’ relationships, made sure they got to know each other well and still did not forget that they are seventeen and eighteen year olds and that they also could be attracted to each other fast. It just rang true to me, every single interactions between them and even their quarrels ring true as well. No deliberate misunderstandings here and then spending half a book trying to correct that misunderstandings. Oh no, the problems between them mirror the problems that stand between their nations in a sense and in a sense their problems are due to their personalities.” – Sirius, Amazon user (5 stars)

Storyteller by Amy Thomson

On the planet of Thalassa, a world in which history is chronicled from one generation to the next by Storytellers, one woman who calls herself Teller has a profound impact on the life of Samad, a young street boy who has become apprenticed to her.

What do the readers say?

“I whole-heartedly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good fantasy novel. It is not an adrenalin gusher, it is thoughtful, delightful, there are places where I used a hanky (or three), and there are places where I not only chuckled, but also laughed out loud. A truly fun book.” – Lenora G., Amazon user (5 stars)


Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Kami Glass is in love with someone she’s never met—a boy she’s talked to in her head since she was born. This has made her an outsider in the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, but she has learned ways to turn that to her advantage. Her life seems to be in order, until disturbing events begin to occur. There has been screaming in the woods and the manor overlooking the town has lit up for the first time in 10 years. . . . The Lynburn family, who ruled the town a generation ago and who all left without warning, have returned. Now Kami can see that the town she has known and loved all her life is hiding a multitude of secrets—and a murderer. The key to it all just might be the boy in her head. The boy she thought was imaginary is real, and definitely and deliciously dangerous.

What do the readers say?

“It’s obvious – I have a mega crush on this book. I fell in love with Kami most of all and then everything else lined right up. Sometimes strong characters and writing can just do that to a person. Unspoken is definitely a stand out of 2013!!” – Lisa from Read.Breathe.Relax, Amazon user (5 stars)

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.

Only he isn’t sure he wants to.

After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.

Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.

But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever.

What do the readers say?

“If you’re still undecided about reading this book, I will warn you it is heavy. A lot of heartbreaking things will happen and Henry’s mind isn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows. He’s depressed, he’s grieving, and he’s internalizing his struggles. Decide with caution, but ultimately I think it is extremely worth the read. More than worth it. My heart feels like somebody cradled it in a cloud and sang it a lullaby.” – Alexis, Amazon user (5 stars)

Lord of Shalott by Jay Mountney

What if Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott was in fact a Lord? This retelling of the Arthurian legend shows how Jocelyn shunned knightly pursuits, had a cursed affair and then found love and a new future with the help and hindrance of Merlin and Mordred.

What do the readers say?

“Delightful! A beautifully written fairytale of love, betrayal and hope. The narrative was rich and detailed to the point I felt I was listening to a poem and contemplating a painting while reading. The style was elegant and gave the story an authentic feel of old epics without being overdone.” – Erika, Goodreads user (5 stars)


Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

What do the readers say?

“Such a charming, lovely book about magic and belonging. I absolutely ADORED the premise, the writing, and the cast of characters.” – Kat O’Keeffe, Goodreads user (5 stars)

The Red Sun Rises by Victoria Kinnaird

Eren Anderson is a freak among freaks. At 17 years old, he doesn’t fit in with his peers in the tiny town of All Hallows and despite being born into it, he most certainly doesn’t fit in among The Order of Our Mother, the secret nature worshipping society that has harnessed the ability cast spells and believes vampires are not only real, but their deadliest enemies. Eren is turned into a vampire after an attack by the local coven master, but that is the least of his worries… In a post-Twilight world, “The Red Sun Rises” is a YA novel intended to give vampires their bite back but it should not be read as simply another vampire novel. “The Red Sun Rises” is a story about growing up, responsibility, falling in love, facing your fears and taking fate into your own hands.

What do the readers say?

“Personally, I enjoyed this story a great deal and the characters are fascinating as they come to life with their unique qualities. I highly recommend this story to youth and adults. Is a sequel in the future?” – Neil in Morgan Hill, Amazon user (5 stars)

Rise of the Darkwitch by Ziv Gray

Emmy’s a freak. They call her a Darkwitch. A demon.

All her life as an abused apprentice in Krodge’s Apothecary, she’s wondered: who am I? When the Masvams attack, Emmy loses her home, her mistress, her life – but the changes bring more knowledge about her heritage than she ever dreamed of knowing.

The Masvam crown lies at the tips of Prince Mantos’s fingers, but his brother wants it more. Bandim will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He’ll use dark magic. He’ll even kill.

There’s more to Emmy than the moons’ light shows.

Mantos faces a dark choice: kill his brother, or be killed.

Both must answer the question:

Who are you?

What do the readers say?

“Rise of the Darkwitch by Ziv Gray takes place on an alien world that is depicted so brilliantly I feel as if I’ve been there. People, religion, and politics are intertwined in a fascinating and believable society. The alien beings are mesmerizing from their neck scales to their tails yet retain a spark of human emotion that is relatable and endearing.” – Roxanne Smolen, Amazon user (4 stars)

Banished Sons of Poseidon by Andrew J. Peters

A new fantastical adventure by the author of The Seventh Pleiade. After escaping from a flood that buried the aboveground in seawater, a fractured group of boys contend with the way ahead and their trust of an underground race of men who gives them shelter. For sixteen-year-old Dam, whose world was toppling before the tragedy, it’s a strange, new second chance. There are wonders in the underworld and a foreign warrior Hanhau who is eager for friendship despite Dam’s dishonorable past.

But a rift between his countrymen threatens to send their settlement into chaos. Peace between the evacuees and Hanhau’s tribe depends on sharing a precious relic that glows with arcane energy. When danger emerges from the shadowed backcountry, Dam must undertake a desperate mission. It’s the only hope to make it home to Atlantis. It’s the only way to save Hanhau and his people.

What do the readers say?

“I think this is a really imaginative fantasy story which involves a quest, love and a really good adventure with a cast of engaging characters. A very good read for anyone who enjoys fantasy.” – Mummy, Amazon user (5 stars)

The Stone Prince by Fiona Patton

The royal line of Branion, have been blessed, or cursed, with the power of the Flame, a magic which—if wielded properly—none can stand against. But if called upon by one untrained, the Flame is as likely to destroy its human vessel as whatever foe it has been unleashed against.
Yet even the Flame is less dangerous than Her Most Regal and Sacred Majesty Melesandra the Third, an unyielding and terrifying ruler. No one understands this better than Crown Prince Demnor, who is convinced he is his mother’s most-treasured victim. Often at odds with Melesandra, Demnor knows he will receive no support from her when faced with the prospect of an unwanted, politically motivated marriage.
But all his personal conflicts must be thrust aside when the realm of Branion is drawn into a far greater struggle as the eternally rebellious Heathland plots a bold new campaign of war. Only time will tell whether Demnor can survive the traitors within the Court and the ever-growing rebel forces—even as he strives to master the power which is his birthright.

What do the readers say?

“Totally loved Stone Prince. Best book of the series in my opinion. If you only read one, read this one. World building, characters that you care for, excitement, battles, surprises. Everything you ask for in a fantasy. Cannot recommend highly enough.” – Lyn, Amazon user (5 stars)

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend, Robby, have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things.

Funny, intense, complex, and brave, Grasshopper Jungle brilliantly weaves together everything from testicle-dissolving genetically modified corn to the struggles of recession-era, small-town America in this groundbreaking coming-of-age stunner.

What do the readers say?

“I love this story. I admire (and am trying not to envy) the incredible writing, and the concept is so different and unexpected in the most appealing sort of way. This is one story that no matter how overburdened my TBR list becomes, I’d still always make time to reread this, and I think each reading experience would be different.” – B.A. Wilson, Amazon user (5 stars)

Proxy by Alex London

Syd’s life is not his own. As a proxy he must to pay for someone else’s crimes. When his patron Knox crashes a car and kills someone, Syd is branded and sentenced to death. The boys realize the only way to beat the system is to save each other so they flee. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test the boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay.
This fast-paced thrill ride of a novel is full of breakneck action, shocking twists and heart-hammering suspense that will have readers gasping until the very last page.

What do the readers say?

“This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I was absorbed in the story and after two days of nonstop reading, I was upset to see the story end. ” – patrick, Amazon user (5 stars)

Otherbound by Courtney Duyvis

Nolan doesn’t see darkness when he closes his eyes. Instead, he’s transported into the mind of Amara, a girl living in a different world. Nolan’s life in his small Arizona town is full of history tests, family tension, and laundry; his parents think he has epilepsy, judging from his frequent blackouts. Amara’s world is full of magic and danger — she’s a mute servant girl who’s tasked with protecting a renegade princess. Nolan is only an observer in Amara’s world — until he learns to control her. At first, Amara is terrified. Then, she’s furious. But to keep the princess — and themselves — alive, they’ll have to work together and discover the truth behind their connection.

What do the readers say?

“Love, love, LOVE this book. I’m a bi woman and I very rarely see any bi representation in media, especially in young adult novels. There’s also disability representation and main characters of color, which were written very well! I so appreciate that. Duyvis is a talented author, and I couldn’t put this book down. It’s on par with my favorites (among Harry Potter, and Still Missing by Chevy Stevens). I can’t wait to read what other novels she has!” – Amazon customer (5 stars)

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz

Fifteen-year-old bender Kivali has had a rough time in a gender-rigid culture. Abandoned as a baby and raised by Sheila, an ardent nonconformist, Kivali has always been surrounded by uncertainty. Where did she come from? Is it true what Sheila says, that she was deposited on Earth by the mysterious saurians? What are you? people ask, and Kivali isn’t sure. Boy/girl? Human/lizard? Both/neither? Now she’s in CropCamp, with all of its schedules and regs, and the first real friends she’s ever had. Strange occurrences and complicated relationships raise questions Kivali has never before had to consider. But she has a gift—the power to enter a trancelike state to harness the “knowings” inside her. She has Lizard Radio. Will it be enough to save her? A coming-of-age story rich in friendships and the shattering emotions of first love, this deeply felt novel will resonate with teens just emerging as adults in a sometimes hostile world.

What do the readers say?

“And thanks to Pat for being a good writer. For making the story weird and interesting and gripping. I want everyone I know to read this book. Thanks for speaking up, thanks for creating a story that mirrors these parts of our lives and experiences. I am so so so grateful.” – MetaMeta, Amazon user (5 stars)

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. She also displays unwanted magical abilities, last seen in mysterious beings from a long-ago age. Matters escalate when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees, dressed as a boy. The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom, not mysteries. Reinvented as Micah Grey, Gene joins the circus as an aerialist. She discovers the joy of flight, but is plagued by visions of danger.

What do the readers say?

“Not only is this story bold, adventurous and amazing, but the characters are some of the most fleshed-out, complicated characters I have seen in YA fiction in a long time.” – Shawn DeMille, Amazon user (5 stars)

What are YOUR favorite YA SFF books featuring LGBT characters? Let us know in the comments!


  • The Best YA Science Fiction & Fantasy with LGBTQ+ Characters

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