Diversity in YA

Two book posts in one day! While I was compiling my Horror Books Round-Up, I praised one for depicting a main character as Japanese and another as biracial because diversity in the Young Adult genre is sorely needed. That in turn inspired this post – there is no reason for 99% of protagonists to conform to the white heterosexual default, and I wanted to highlight the few books I’ve come across recently that feature main characters who stand out from the norm. Presenting with no further ado…




Title: Heroine Complex
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Expected Date of Publication: July 5th 2016
Page Count: 368 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (taken from Goodreads)

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

How awesome does that cover look! I like the throwback to the 70s sci-fi/fantasy covers and the crazy references to murderous cupcakes and supernatural karaoke battles, lol! Evie looks adorkable with her cute duck tee. 😀 And I love that the main relationships alluded to in the synopsis are with her female boss and her sister, it’s fantastic when YA doesn’t just focus on boy-crushes and Twu Wuv to the exclusion of all else! Really looking forward to this fantasy take on The Devil Wears Prada.


Title: Not Your Sidekick
Author: C. B. Lee
Expected Date of Publication: September 8th 2016
Page Count: 262 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (taken from Goodreads)

Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

This is the mirror image of Heroine Complex – instead of a powered PA to a superhero, we have a NON-powered PA to a supervillain, cool! I enjoy seeing the more mundane day-to-day workings of heroes or villains, so this concept has me intrigued at what Jess’s internship might entail. And I’m thrilled that there’s a reference to Jessica’s crush on another girl; there are tragically few lesbian/bisexual genre books out there, so I’m eagerly anticipating this one! 😀



Title: The Abyss Surrounds Us
Author:  Emily Skrutskie
Date of Publication: February 8th 2016
Page Count: 273 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (taken from Goodreads)

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.

As soon as I heard about this futuristic book about PIRATES VS SEA MONSTERS with a lesbian love story, I was all over it. Cas is our Chinese-American lead, looking badass on the cover. She has this reluctant alliance-turned-sorta-friendship-turned-romance with a pirate girl who’s assigned to protect her and I DIED because that’s my favorite trope ever and I was ecstatic at it being adapted for a lesbian relationship. 😀

I’m also in love with the author’s comments on the queer relationship in this novel:

“The developing romance takes place between a girl who’s been captured by pirates and one of the pirates keeping her. If I wanted to contribute to the mountain of heteronormativity that already exists in genre YA, the pirate keeping her would have to be a boy.

I did not want to contribute to that mountain.

My interests have always lain in telling stories about girls and what they do with power. Why write about one complicated girl caught in a forbidden romance when you could write about two?”


Title: The Girl From The Well
Author: Rin Chupeco
Date of Publication: August 5th 2014
Page Count: 267 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (taken from Goodreads)

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

I already gushed about this in yesterday’s post, but to reiterate – it’s a wonderfully spooky read with fascinating characters plus a very creative and original plot. ❤ Elements of Japanese culture are woven into the tale which gives it a unique identity and I enjoyed being immersed in a foreign country and its traditions.

That’s it for now! Hopefully more and more books with diverse main characters are released – representation matters and it’s such a relief to see someone like you represented in fiction. Aspects of our appearance/identity that doesn’t conform to the norm are often ridiculed or discriminated against and seeing characters of different races and/or who are LGBT+ is important because it helps to normalize minorities, encourages empathy and acceptance, plus it provides hope and comfort to those who’ve been erased for too long. We deserve to be visible.

(I’m not very eloquent when it comes to issues like this, so I’ll point you towards a handy collection of links to posts by those better at articulating the importance of representation)

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