Part 2 in a Series of Bingo Challenge Themed Reviews & Suggestion Lists – Full List of Squares and Introduction Available Here.
A SFF Novel Featuring a Character With a Disability – I think this one should be fairly self-explanatory. Anything considered a disability would count whether it’s a physical disability or a mental health disability.
HARD MODE: The character has to be a main protagonist, not a side character.– Reddit r/Fantasy
This is such an interesting square! It’s often challenging to find novels that include protagonists who suffer from a disability. There are a wide variety of options here, ranging from something mild like anxiety or depression all the way up to a physical disability that severely impedes a normal life. It’s nice to see a focus on inclusion like this.
I will be doing a reread of The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan for this square. It’s a book that definitely needs two reads for full enjoyment, I feel, and this is providing an excellent excuse!
Mini Review #1 – Deerskin by Robin McKinley (Hard Mode)
McKinley is one of my favorite authors, whose books are typically whimsical and lighthearted, featuring gorgeous prose reminiscent of fairy tales. While Deerskin certainly has the prose, it is non-standard for McKinley in that it deals with some very dark and difficult themes, such as sexual abuse, rape, and the healing process after.
The main character undergoes a traumatic event and develops severe PTSD early on in the novel. I was impressed by the delicacy with which McKinley handled her healing process; as a survivor of sexual assault myself, it was a comfort to see someone in literature go through an acceptance process that was, in many ways, similar to mine. It was not hand-waved away, and the impacts weren’t erased at the novel’s conclusion – just like the impacts are never erased in real life. However, lest you believe this book is all gloom and doom, Deerskin does end on an optimistic note.
Other applicable bingo squares: Retelling
Mini Review #2 – AURORA by Kim Stanley Robinson (Hard Mode)
Do you like scifi? How about generation ship scifi? How about generation ship scifi as seen through the eyes of a high-functioning autistic protagonist? If so, AURORA might well be book for you for this square.
Although AURORA is technically narrated by the ship’s artificial intelligence, the AI has chosen to focus on telling the story in a narrative fashion, focusing on one young girl’s life: our protagonist, Freya. Freya has always been a little “off” – she doesn’t quite understand things the way others do. As she navigates the different biomes of the ship on her wanderjhar (a sort of walkabout), she discovers discontent and unhappiness with the current management on the ship.
As the ship begins to slowly approach its final destination, unexpected complications arise, forcing Freya to take on a leadership role she never expected or anticipated. She must make difficult decisions for everyone on the ship, and process all the heartbreak and death that goes along with it.
Overall, I loved the ideas and themes in this book. I’m a sucker for generation ships. However, I did find the prose to be a bit weak and distant for my taste.
Other applicable bingo squares: Slice of Life, Novel Featuring an AI Character
Mini Review #3 – The Broken Kingdoms (book #2, Inheritance Trilogy) by N. K. Jemisin (Hard Mode)
I’ll confess… it’s been a hot minute since I read this book, so we’re going to run into some generalities. I wanted to ensure to include at least one physically disabled protagonist, and I’ll confess: racking my brain for someone who fit has made me realize that I have been slacking where this is concerned. The Broken Kingdoms is the second book in Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy, and it features a blind protagonist. Oree is entirely unable to see, with one exception: she’s able to see magic. Oree is funny and sometimes headstrong, which colors the way she interacts with the mysterious magical man she’s encountered and dubbed “Shiny.” Like the rest of the Inheritance Trilogy, The Broken Kingdoms is heavy on prose and atmosphere. It’s a thoughtful and interesting novel.
Other applicable bingo squares: N/A
Honorable Mention – The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan
I’ve already previously done both a full and mini review of this novel, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it by name here. Amazing normalization and representation of disability combined with stunning prose and atmosphere.
List of Books Featuring a Disabled Character Suggestions
(personally read & verified)
- Deerskin by Robin McKinley
- AURORA by Kim Stanley Robinson
- The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
- The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
- Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft
- The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan
- An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock
- City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett
- Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
- Game of Thrones by G. R. R. Martin
- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
- Seize the Night by Dean Koontz
- Hunters and Collectors by M Suddain
(aggregated from other recommendation threads)
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
- Everfair by Nisi Shawl
- Inda by Sherwood Smith
- The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
- The First Law by Joe Abercrombie
- City of Lies by Sam Hawke
- The Vorkisigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
- Borderline by Mishell Baker
- A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell
- A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
- Starless by Jacqueline Carey
- Planetfall by Emma Newman
- Age of Assassins by R. J. Barker
- The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
- Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
- Brood of Bones by A.E. Marling
- Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
- The Golden Horn by Judith Tarr
- Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
- Silent Dances and Silent Songs by A.C. Crispin
- The Heritage of Shannara by Terry Brooks
- Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi
- On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
- Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
- Traitor, Fugitive, Fury, The Demons We See, The Nightmare We Know, and the Spirit Caller series – all by Krista D. Ball
- To Ride Hell’s Chasm by Janny Wurts
- Wardens of Issalia by Jeffery Kohanek
- Blood Price by Tanya Huff,
- Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews
- Among Others by Jo Walton
- When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs
- Hyperion by Dan Simmons
- Earthquake Weather by Tim Powers
- Mélusine by Sarah Monette
- The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
- The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
- Blindness by Jose Saramago
- Corum by Michael Moorcock
- Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward
- Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller
- The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey
- Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
- Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody
- Aching God by Mike Shel
- King of Foxes by Raymond E Feist
- The Vagrant by Peter Newman
- Lock In by John Scalzi
- Heart’s Blood by J. Marillier
- Seraphina’s Lament by Sarah Chorn
Reddit user /u/tctippens again provides us with a few audio drama recommendations.
Please notify me in the comments of any additional books that can be added to this list!