Book Recs: 10 Lesser-Known Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books with Disabled Characters


In an effort to spread more awareness of disabilities and the books that feature them, I’ve decided to join the Disability Diaries event and to share with you all ten science fiction and fantasy books featuring disabled characters!

I know this is similar to the list I just introduced on Monday, but I wanted a chance to actually spotlight some of the books I’ve read and others that sound especially good.

And when you’re done with this post, you can find even more books in my Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books with Disability Masterlist as well as lots of other amazing and insightful posts by checking out the #DisabilityDiaries2017 hashtag on Twitter!

No One Dies in the Garden of Syn by Michael Seidelman
Life as a Teenage Vampire by Amanda Meuwissen
Brood of Bones by A.E. Marling
Sugar Scars by Travis Norwood
Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

1. No One Dies in the Garden of Syn by Michael Seidelman

A somewhat sci-fi/fantasy mashup YA featuring a character with cystic fibrosis. I’ve read this one, and it seems like a pretty realistic portrayal! Plus it’s Book 1 in a series, so there’s still more to come. [Review]

2. Life as a Teenage Vampire by Amanda Meuwissen

A YA LGBT vampire romance with a love interest who uses a robotic hand/arm prosthetic. I’ve also read this one, and while there’s not much about the struggles of having a prosthetic, it’s a sweet story and a fun book. [Review]

3. Brood of Bones by A.E. Marling

A fantasy book about a narcoleptic main character. I haven’t read this one yet, but it sounds great!

4. Sugar Scars by Travis Norwood

A post-apocalyptic story about a girl with diabetes trying to survive by making her own insulin in the newly destroyed world. I love that idea for a book because most people never think about these types of things when it comes to post-apocalyptic stories. [Update: Review]

5. Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

A YA with a touch of paranormal/religion about a main character who has epilepsy and scoliosis. The MC had a great voice, and I found his perspective enlightening and humbling. [Review]

Foamers by Justin Kassab
The Vengeful Half by Jaclyn Dolamore
The Least by Michael John Grist
The Dream Protocol by Adara Quick
The Girl in Between by Laekan Zea Kemp

6. Foamers by Justin Kassab

A post-apocalyptic book about a main character with Huntington’s Disease. I haven’t read this one yet either, but it’s another that take disability into account during an apocalypse and also sounds really good! [Update: Review]

7. The Vengeful Half by Jaclyn Dolamore

A YA fantasy with a blind love interest. He does have a telepathic-like ability to kind of feel out and “see” rooms and things in his mind, but it’s not foolproof and can only be used in small amounts, so he does still have some struggles with his blindness. [Review]

8. The Least by Michael John Grist

A post-apocalyptic about a paraplegic main character surviving in the world after it’s overtaken by zombies. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m definitely down for reading about a character with disability kicking zombie ass!

9. The Dream Protocol by Adara Quick

A YA dystopian with a love interest who has progeria (accelerated aging). This is the only dystopian on my list, and it sounds like a really interesting book!

10. The Girl in Between by Laekan Zea Kemp

A YA fantasy about a girl with Klein-Levin syndrome. Normally I wouldn’t recommend a book in which the chronic illness turns out to be something paranormal, as it does in this one, but I’m including this for the sole reason that in the first and second books, the author really nails the emotional aspects of having a chronic illness. [Review]


Talk to me!

Have you read any of these books?
Do any of them sound interesting to you?
Do you have any other recommendations for sci-fi/fantasy books with physically disabled characters?


Your Thoughts


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  1. Dragonfly

    I’m reading the Girl in between soon and I have the 9. The Dream Protocol ARC so I SHOULD read it eventually lol It didn’t get very good reviews. That’s why the procrastination. Your list reminded me of one of my favorite sci-fi apocalyptic series ever… Life as we Know it. 5 stars all the way. Book 2 deals with asthma. Reading the struggles of this character to survive made me think of diabetes!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Cool, I’m excited to see what you think! Ooh you have an ARC of Dream Protocol? Lucky! I heard about from someone else’s blog. I haven’t read a bunch of reviews though, so I haven’t seen the not good ones you speak of.

      Girl, if you know of a sci-fi book with asthma why haven’t you filled out my form so I can add it to my masterlist?!

      1. Dragonfly

        Omg so sorry!!! Crazy week! I’m now in DC traveling but I will as soon as I have a chance to breathe ? My flight back home now delayed 5 hours now until 11:30 ???? and I have to this again Sunday ?

        1. Kristen Burns

          Lol it’s ok, I forgive you πŸ˜‰ Whenever you do get a chance though, I’d love to add it if it has disability, but I looked up the second book and didn’t see anything mentioned so I really wouldn’t have any info without your input. Yikes, a 5 hour delay? That sucks! Break out a book and make the best of it?

          1. Dragonfly

            Yup I don’t think the blurb says anything about the asthma but it’s a pretty big plot device. And yes… #amreading! OMG no reading! I am DEVOURING Hell Divers here at the airport. What a freakingly good book! Oh by the way…. TONS of people dealing with chronic sickness in this one too. Cancer (due to radiation) and Flu (due to confinement)
            AND WHY HAVEN’T I INSISTED until you fainted thar you read Cinder????? Ugh! We are adding that one to your list too!!! Cinder is a cyborg 33% prosthetic! One arm, one foot, a bunch of other things… One of heroes is blind in the 3rd book which is what I’m listening to now!!! SMH! ,

            1. Kristen Burns

              Well idk if being a cyborg really counts as disability. But blindness definitely counts! And I’ve never even heard of Hell Divers. This is why I need your help, so that I can add these books!

                1. Kristen Burns

                  Oh, I thought she was like, not human? But if she was human and lost limbs and got prosthetics, then yeah that counts. But I’m guessing her limbs probably work just as well as normal limbs?

              1. Dragonfly

                Lol I can’t reply to your last reply! We reach the limit! πŸ˜€
                The story stars with Cinder struggling to save money to buy a new foot. Since she is a teenager and still growing she has to replace his leg to keep up with her growth and they are expensive and she doesn’t have the means, That sounds pretty realistic to me.? And because she can’t replace it with a new one she limps with the old one and falls with when she is running away and it’s captured. That sounds realistic too ?

  2. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    This is a great list and some of these look really good. I know this is a trivial point, but I always recognize the covers in the Grist series. I own one of these and the guy on the front is the spitting image of Chuck Norris in my opinion. Strange reason for a book to stand out huh?

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! Well I guess if something makes you interested in a series, it’s still a good thing no matter how strange the reason, haha. He’s actually changing the covers though which makes me sad because I love the ones like the one in this post :-/

  3. AngelErin

    I need to add some of these to my TBR! I haven’t read any books with some of these in it, like Huntington’s disease. Thanks for putting these on my radar! ?

    1. Kristen Burns

      I didn’t even know what Huntington’s Disease was, I had to look it up when I saw the book, so I think it’s pretty cool that there’s actually a book about it to bring more attention to it, you know? Glad I could help you find some books!

  4. Lampshade Reader

    You know, I ‘ve always wondered about people with medical disabilities in post apocalyptic worlds. Especially in the Walking Dead, is everyone healthy?? I take medication, so I was wondering what the hell would happen. LOL

    I really like the cover of Brood of Bones.

    Great list. ~Aleen

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, exactly! That’s why I love the idea for Sugar Scars and the other post-apoc books. It seems a lot of people also like that idea. There would definitely be some people with disabilities and who take medications and whatnot who would survive. And the question of “then what?” definitely has potential for a story.

      I like that cover too! And thanks!

  5. Elnade

    Some of these sound really interesting, especially The Girl In Between, I think I will definitely be adding that to my TBR. Sugar scars sound really good too. I have a friend who is really into vampire books, I think I’ll recommend Life as a teenage Vampire to her. Thanks for writing about lesser known books, they need all the help they can get.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Glad I could help you find some books for your TBR! I really liked both The Girl in Between and Life as a Teenage Vampire, so I hope you and your friend enjoy them too πŸ™‚

  6. Danya @ Fine Print

    This post is such a great resource, Kristen! Reading diversely has been a priority for me for a while, but I haven’t been doing a very good job including books with main characters who are disabled. The only one I’ve read recently was Dreaming Death, which features a blind protagonist — while she can magically sense impressions of objects, she still moves very slowly and carefully, and I think the author does a great job capturing her frustration at being blind and being somewhat coddled. The Vengeful Half sounds somewhat similar in that regard!

  7. Maureen Beatrice

    These books definitely sound interesting. I haven’t read many Sci Fi/ Fantasy novels lately. But β€˜Unfolding’ and β€˜The Girl in Between’ sound like some great reads.
    I can’t really remember reading a book with physically disabled characters. Hmm..

  8. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Yay, recommendations of books for me to read in the future! I am excited, although I’ve already got one of these on my Kindle anyway. I need to add them all. I love the book set in a post-apocalyptic world where the girl has diabetes! I fully expect to die early on if the apocalypse happens, I have no decent survival instincts. I agree there aren’t enough books which consider how people will survive, though.

    1. Kristen Burns

      πŸ˜€ Seriously, I love the idea for the diabetes one. There should totally be more books are disabilities post-apoc. That should be a new subgenre or something.

  9. Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    Great post! I’m definitely adding these to my to-read list (and I’ve already saved your masterlist). SF & F are some of my favorite genres, but the representation can be severely lacking. I’m so glad you made a list of ones that feature disability!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! It’s hard finding sci-fi/fantasy books with disability since the representation is so lacking, so it makes me really happy to know I’m helping people find books πŸ™‚

  10. Greg

    Nice list. No One Dies looks intriguing with that cover, and Sugar scars- yes! Where would you find the insulin??? I love that someone is addressing that. There are so many things in the post apoc that re glossed over- like what if you can’t get more contacts lol? How do you see the zombs to avoid em??

    The dream Protocol is different!

    Like that cover of Brood of Bones. and of course Unfolding. πŸ™‚ And how often do you see epilepsy??

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh gosh, I’d be zombie food for sure because I can’t see shit without my contacts. But most people with contacts also have glasses. Unfortunately I am not one of those people lol. I’ve never kept up with my prescription so my glasses wouldn’t improve my vision by much and honestly I could not even tell you where my glasses are. I’ve seen something from tumblr where someone talked about how there should be a story about someone with braces after the apocalypse searching for an orthodontist lol. There really are so many things that never get considered in post-apoc stories.

      Yeah, you don’t see epilepsy much in books, but it really gave me a new appreciation for what it must be like for anyone who has it. I’m not posting my review until the end of the month, but I liked the book.

      But you know, I feel like you see narcolepsy even less often, so it’s cool that Brood of Bones has that in it! (But idk if it’s realistic since I haven’t read it yet.)

      1. Greg

        Yes – braces! I have wondered that. Who’s gonna take em off if all the orthodontists are dead?? I worry about these things… and yeah I need advance notice of an apocalypse so I can stock up on boxes of contacts. I don’t have glasses either because I hate em and they’re so expensive, so I just live w/contacts lol.

        1. Kristen Burns

          Hahaha I need advance notice of an apocalypse too. I was saying in another comment that this kind of thing should totally be a post-apoc subgenre, people with disabilities or specific needs, like those with contacts and braces, trying to live in the post-apoc world, trying to find/make what they need, etc. I’d read the hell out of those books. But I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t have glasses. I actually never even wore glasses before I got contacts. I wore them a few times in this one class where I sat all the way in the back, but that was it. I just skipped straight to contacts basically lol.

  11. Angel @Angel Reads

    I haven’t heard of most of these books, but The Girl in Between has caught my eye. I didn’t even though it featured someone with a disability, which makes me that more intrigued. I cannot wait to pick some of these books up. Thanks for this post and joining in on Disability Diaries!

  12. La La in the Library

    I have not read any of these. The Dream Protocol sounds good to me. I read the frst book in a Fantasy duology about a teen in a wheelchair titled XYZ. He does not get paranormally cured, at least not in the first book, but I doubt he will because the author wrote the story so his wheelchair bound son had a book hero to read about like himself. There is another favorite book of mine about a girl with Ehlers-Danlos (sp?) Syndrome. It is paranormally “cured”, she dies, but the emotional impact it had on her stays with her as a spirit. I will be filling out your form for these two books. πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Awesome! I’m happy to hear you’ve got some books to add to the list! It’s frustrating that so many books do have the characters get magically cured since it kind of sends the wrong message, but, at the same time, if the disability is well-written before it’s cured, that counts for something because it can still help people understand and be more aware.

  13. chucklesthescot

    The Least is the third in a zombie series but I think they can be read as stand alone books…sadly I won’t be getting to this one as book one is about the worst zombie book I ever read! (that’s just my opinion folks, try it and decide for yourselves!) But the good thing is having lists like this so people can at least try the books and decide for themselves as we all have different tastes. It’s great of you to take the time to do this. Oh, book one in this series has the MC recovering from a coma and developing a condition where stimulation will kill him. (The Last)

    1. Kristen Burns

      I knew it was the third book, but I figured it was the type of series that could be read out of order. I didn’t realize you’d read the first one though. Sorry you didn’t like it :-/ I have like the first three books though because I got them as freebies, so I still plan to give at least the first one a try!

  14. Lola

    Nice mash of books you already read and books you want to read. I remember a few of these from reading your reviews like the Garden of Syn one. And sometimes having the disability be there instead of getting much of the focus is nice too.

    After your list on Monday I suddenly realized I was reading books with disabilities in them. One of my current rads has a main character with burn scars on her back and the other read has a main character who is blind in one eye. Not really the focus, but it’s part of it. One is a cozy mystery and the other is a contemporary romance/ suspense read, so they aren’t for your list. But it was interesting how I suddenly noticed those things as your post was still in the back of my mind.

    Those tow books with disabilities during the apocalypse sound interesting, seems an original addition and like it makes the whole surviving thing even more difficult. Oh I’ve read a book about a character that might have Huntington’s once (contemporary romance), the book focused on whether she wanted to know if she had the disease or not, as they can tell that with tests even if you don’t have symptoms yet. It was interesting and also a bit creepy and difficult read at times. Even though I DNF’d The Girl in between, i do agree with you that the disease felt realistic how it was written even if later it turns out to be paranormal in cause.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! And that’s awesome that you’ve started noticing disability in the books you’re already reading πŸ™‚

      So far everyone has seemed most interested by the post-apoc disability books, and I think that’s such an awesome idea too. I can see how that book would be difficult to read since it’s difficult in real life waiting for test results, especially since Huntington’s in particular is terminal, if I’m not mistaken.

  15. Dina

    This is such a cool list, Kristen! I haven’t heard of any of these books. You are a total ninja because you found such a variety of disabilities to include here. Wow. Very neat. Following you on Bloglovin to keep in touch. Hope that’s okay.

  16. Adalyn

    This is such an amazing list! There aren’t nearly enough sci-fi/fantasy books with disabled characters out there. I can’t really think of any that I’ve read, and I’ve never heard of these before, so I’m excited to check them out.

  17. Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

    Loving the post-apocalyptic settings for some of these! It’s kind of stupid and terrible of me to have NEVER thought about that before? Like, how do people with diabetes and other chronic illnesses make it? Man….I need to read those! Great list. Thanks!

  18. Gabby

    What an awesome and helpful list! I’m doing #diversitybingo2017 and I kept seeing the same few books suggested for the ‘SFF with disabled main character’ square. Thank you for the great suggestions.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Glad you like it! And yeah, that’s the problem, it’s always the same books that get mentioned when there are in fact others out there, so I’m happy to hear my list is already accomplishing something πŸ™‚

  19. sjhigbee

    There is also Tad Williams’ epic sci fi/fantasy mash-up series Otherland with one of the main protagonists, Orlando, suffering from progeria in the real world, which is advanced ageing and motivates him to spend a great deal of time in a virtual world where he can react normally. A great list, Kristen:).

  20. Cilla

    Thank you for this list, Kristen! It probably shows how ignorant I’ve been about the issue, but I’d never really thought about disability in sci-fi and fantasy until Disability Diaries. The premises of these books sound brilliant though – I’d be keeping an eye out for them!

  21. Jo

    This is such a great list! I don’t read much sci-fi, but fantasy is definitely one of those genres that seems to be the least diverse, so it’s always great to hear about fantasy books that geature marginalised characters – especially disabled characters, because I fear there are even fewer disabled characters in all books than any other marginalised character. (I could be wrong here, this is based on my own reading and diverse books lists I’ve looked at.)

    I didn’t know about the #DisabledDiaries2017, but as I’m intentionally trying to read more books with disabled characters this year, this is going to be extremely helpful – as well as your masterlist! Thank you!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I agree, it does seem disabilities seem to have the least amount of representation (and then half the time it’s inaccurate). Glad you find my lists helpful!!!

  22. Bookworm Brandee

    A couple of these are on my tbr already thanks to you. πŸ˜‰ But there are a few others that will be piled on. I like the premise of Sugar Scars and Vengeful Half. Thanks for sharing these, Kristen!

  23. Cyn @ Book Munchies

    I haven’t read any of these but I do love sci-fi and fantasy and this list is extra awesome for featuring people with disabilities! I’m intrigued by the Dream Protocol and Brood of Bones!
    Great list, Kristen!