The Ultimate Guide to LGBTQ+ Young Adult Novels
Written: editor | April 18, 2023
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Plot summary and main characters
In this heartwarming young adult novel, Simon Spier is a sixteen-year-old high school student navigating his way through friendships, family dynamics, and a secret he's not ready to share with the world. Simon is gay, but he hasn't come out to anyone yet, except for his mysterious online pen pal, “Blue.” The story follows Simon as he tries to uncover Blue's true identity, all while dealing with the ups and downs of teenage life.
The book's main characters are relatable and endearing. Simon is a witty and likable protagonist, and readers will find themselves rooting for him as he goes on this journey of self-discovery. The story also features a diverse cast of supporting characters, each with their own quirks and challenges.
Exploring themes of self-discovery and acceptance
One of the main themes in “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” is the journey of self-discovery and acceptance. Through Simon's experiences and interactions, the novel explores the complexities of coming to terms with one's identity and the courage it takes to embrace who you truly are. The author handles these themes with sensitivity and authenticity, creating a safe space for young readers to explore their own identities and understand the importance of acceptance and understanding.
Becky Albertalli's novel has garnered well-deserved praise for its realistic portrayal of LGBTQ+ experiences, its engaging narrative, and its positive message of self-acceptance. “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” is a must-read for not only young adults but readers of all ages who appreciate stories that celebrate diversity and the power of self-acceptance.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Introduction to the magical world of Watford School of Magicks
In Rainbow Rowell's captivating young adult fantasy novel, “Carry On,” readers are transported into the enchanting world of the Watford School of Magicks. Set in a modern-day Britain where magic and technology coexist, this book offers a thrilling blend of adventure, romance, and magical battles.
The story follows Simon Snow, the Chosen One, who is destined to save the magical world from an ancient evil. As Simon navigates his final year at Watford, he discovers secrets about his own powers and uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the safety of the school and its inhabitants. With the help of his friends, including the witty and enigmatic Baz, Simon must confront his own fears and embrace his destiny.
The forbidden love story of Simon and Baz
One of the most captivating aspects of “Carry On” is the forbidden love story between Simon and Baz. Despite being rivals and constantly at odds with each other, a deep connection begins to form between them throughout the book. The chemistry between Simon and Baz is palpable, and readers will find themselves rooting for their relationship to overcome the barriers standing in their way.
Rainbow Rowell's writing beautifully captures the complexities of their emotions and the struggle of embracing their feelings against societal expectations. This love story adds depth and emotional resonance to the story, making “Carry On” a truly memorable and impactful read.
Overall, “Carry On” is an enchanting and heartwarming young adult fantasy novel that will captivate readers with its magical world and compelling characters. Rainbow Rowell's masterful storytelling and exploration of love, identity, and destiny make this book a standout in the genre.
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
A historical adventure set in 18th century Europe
Tucked within the pages of “The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee is a captivating tale that transports readers to 18th century Europe. Follow the protagonist, Henry “Monty” Montague, on a thrilling journey across the continent as he embarks on a grand tour accompanied by his best friend Percy and sister Felicity. From the glittering ballrooms of Paris to the treacherous streets of Barcelona, the trio faces a series of trials and encounters unexpected dangers along the way.
The vivid historical backdrop adds depth and richness to the story, showcasing the intricate details of the time period and immersing readers in the lavishness and societal restrictions of the era. Lee's meticulous research shines through, offering a glimpse into the political intrigue, cultural norms, and societal expectations prevalent during this time.
Monty's journey of self-acceptance and love
At its core, “The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue” is a tale of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and love. Monty, with his rebellious and rakish demeanor, grapples with his privilege, identity, and personal demons. As the story unfolds, Monty's journey takes an unexpected turn as he confronts his feelings for Percy, discovering a love that defies societal norms and expectations.
Lee skillfully balances the weighty themes with moments of humor and adventure, making the story an engaging and heartfelt read. The diverse and well-developed cast of characters adds depth and authenticity, allowing readers to connect with their struggles, triumphs, and resilience.
“The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue” is a must-read for fans of historical fiction, adventure, and heartfelt coming-of-age stories. With its compelling narrative and vibrant characters, it offers a captivating exploration of identity, love, and the timeless pursuit of finding one's place in the world.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
A captivating tale of forbidden love and political intrigue
In “Girls of Paper and Fire” by Natasha Ngan, readers are transported to a world filled with breathtaking fantasy and dramatic storytelling. This young adult novel follows the journey of Lei, a young woman who is chosen to serve as a Paper Girl, one of the concubines of the demon king. As Lei discovers forbidden love and becomes entangled in political intrigue, she must navigate a treacherous path to reclaim her freedom.
Natasha Ngan masterfully weaves together a captivating tale, where romance, suspense, and action blend seamlessly. The undeniable chemistry between Lei and another Paper Girl, Wren, adds depth and intensity to the story. Their love blossoms against the backdrop of a world full of oppression and injustice, making their fight for freedom and equality even more compelling.
Exploring themes of oppression and breaking free
“Girls of Paper and Fire” delves into thought-provoking themes of oppression and the quest for personal freedom. The novel challenges societal norms and sheds light on the power dynamics that exist within the world it portrays. Through Lei's determination to break free from her predetermined fate, readers are inspired to question their own circumstances and the systems that limit their potential.
Natasha Ngan's writing is both evocative and empowering, creating a sense of hope and resilience throughout the story. By giving a voice to marginalized characters and highlighting their strength and resilience, this novel serves as a beacon of empowerment for young adults everywhere.
With its beautiful writing, powerful storytelling, and exploration of important themes, “Girls of Paper and Fire” is a must-read for fans of LGBTQ+ young adult fantasy novels. It is a celebration of love, courage, and the struggle for justice in a world that seeks to suppress individuality and freedom.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
A paranormal romance featuring Latinx and transgender representation
In the world of young adult fantasy novels, Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas stands out as an exceptional and inclusive story. This paranormal romance not only captivates readers with its thrilling plot but also shines a light on important themes of identity and representation.
The novel follows the journey of Yadriel, a young Latinx transgender boy, who is determined to prove himself as a brujo, a traditional powerful magician, to his community. Alongside his best friend Maritza, Yadriel sets out to summon the spirit of his recently deceased cousin and uncover the truth behind his cousin's death. However, things take an unexpected turn when Yadriel accidentally summons Julian, a stubborn and charismatic ghost.
Yadriel's quest for acceptance and embracing his identity
What makes Cemetery Boys truly remarkable is its exploration of diverse identities and the struggles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals. Aiden Thomas skillfully intertwines Yadriel's journey of self-discovery with a heartwarming romance between Yadriel and Julian. Through their bond, the novel beautifully portrays the importance of acceptance, love, and embracing one's true identity.
Thomas effortlessly immerses readers in a world of magic and mythology, filled with vivid descriptions and rich cultural traditions. Cemetery Boys is a compelling page-turner that not only entertains but also educates and resonates with readers from all backgrounds.
With its powerful storytelling, authentic representation, and positive portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters, Cemetery Boys has garnered praise and recognition, making it a must-read for fans of young adult fantasy. This groundbreaking novel serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration, reminding readers of the importance of inclusivity and celebrating the uniqueness of every individual.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
An epic fantasy with diverse and complex LGBTQ+ characters
Samantha Shannon's “The Priory of the Orange Tree” is a thrilling young adult fantasy novel that embraces diversity and inclusivity. The story takes place in a world where dragons and humans coexist but are divided by politics, religion, and ancient prophecies. It features a cast of strong and complex LGBTQ+ characters who play significant roles in the narrative. From strong female protagonists to nuanced queer relationships, Shannon's novel celebrates the full spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities, offering representation and empowerment to LGBTQ+ readers.
Exploring themes of destiny, politics, and love
Besides its diverse character representation, “The Priory of the Orange Tree” also delves into thought-provoking themes. The book explores the concepts of destiny and free will, highlighting the impact of individual choices on the fate of nations. Shannon expertly weaves political intrigue and power struggles into the narrative, emphasizing the importance of alliances and unity in the face of tyranny.
Furthermore, the novel portrays various forms of love, exploring both romantic and platonic relationships. It examines the complexities of love and sacrifice, illustrating how love can motivate characters to fight against injustice and make brave sacrifices for their loved ones.
With its compelling characters, intricate world-building, and exploration of important themes, “The Priory of the Orange Tree” is not only a remarkable fantasy novel but also a trailblazing work that offers LGBTQ+ representation to young adult readers. It serves as a testament to the power of inclusive storytelling and the ability of literature to unite readers from all walks of life.
We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
A dystopian society divided by gender and class
In the captivating young adult fantasy novel, “We Set the Dark on Fire” by Tehlor Kay Mejia, readers are transported to a dystopian society called Medio, where gender and class divisions reign supreme. The society is divided into two distinct groups: the Primeras, educated young women trained to become the wives of wealthy men, and the Segundas, who fulfill a more domestic role.
Dani's journey of self-discovery and challenging societal norms
At the heart of the story is Daniela Vargas, a young girl who begins to question the restrictive roles assigned to her by society. As Daniela delves deeper into her own desires and aspirations, she discovers a secret rebellion and becomes entangled in a dangerous plot to overthrow the oppressive regime.
As the protagonist navigates her journey, readers witness her bravery, resilience, and determination to challenge societal norms. The book delves into themes of identity, rebellion, and the power of love, creating a dynamic and thought-provoking narrative.
“We Set the Dark on Fire” is not only a thrilling fantasy novel but also a powerful exploration of gender roles and the complexities of societal expectations. Through Mejia's vivid storytelling, readers are transported to a world where dreams have the power to defy boundaries and challenge long-standing traditions.
In a genre that often lacks diverse representation, “We Set the Dark on Fire” stands out as a welcome addition, offering readers a captivating and empowering tale. This young adult fantasy novel not only resonates with members of the LGBTQ+ community but also inspires readers of all backgrounds to embrace their true selves and fight for a better tomorrow.
The importance of diverse representation in young adult fantasy novels
Representation matters, especially in the world of young adult literature. LGBT young adult fantasy novels play a crucial role in providing diverse and inclusive stories for readers. These novels not only offer representation for LGBT youth but also educate and foster empathy among readers of all backgrounds.
By featuring LGBT characters, these novels challenge harmful stereotypes and promote acceptance and understanding. They allow readers to see themselves reflected in the stories they read and offer a sense of validation and belonging. Moreover, LGBT young adult fantasy novels help to break down societal norms and redefine traditional narratives, paving the way for a more inclusive and equal literary landscape.
Recommendations for further reading
Here are some top recommendations for LGBT young adult fantasy novels that are sure to capture your imagination:
- “The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon
- “Carry On” by Rainbow Rowell
- “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller
- “Girls of Paper and Fire” by Natasha Ngan
- “We Set the Dark on Fire” by Tehlor Kay Mejia
These novels offer captivating worlds, exciting adventures, and rich character development, all while exploring themes of love, identity, and self-discovery.
Frequently Asked Questions about LGBT young adult fantasy novels.
Q: Are LGBT young adult fantasy novels only for LGBT readers?
A: No, these novels are for readers of all backgrounds. They provide diverse perspectives and invite readers into a world of inclusivity and empathy.
Q: Are LGBT young adult fantasy novels appropriate for young readers?
A: Most LGBT young adult fantasy novels are written with young readers in mind, but it's always recommended to check the age appropriateness and content warnings before handing them to younger readers.
Q: Are LGBT young adult fantasy novels always focused solely on romance?A: No, while romance may play a part in some novels, LGBT young adult fantasy novels explore a wide range of themes and genres, including adventure, magic, and self-discovery.
Q: Where can I find more LGBT young adult fantasy novels?A: Bookstores, libraries, and online platforms such as Goodreads and Amazon offer a wide selection of LGBT young adult fantasy novels. You can also explore recommendations from book bloggers and book communities.