Lists

10 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels Featuring Characters Living with Mental Illness

 

According to advocacy group Mental Health America, one in five Americans have a mental health condition. With those kinds of numbers, you’d think that it would be easy to find fantastic tales featuring protagonists dealing with possible psychiatric conditions, but sadly, that’s not the case: The mentally ill don’t get much representation in popular culture of any sort, and when they do, it’s usually negative, wildly inaccurate, or both. Still, there’s good stuff out there if you’re willing to dig for it. Here’s 10 we think you might enjoy.

  • The cover of the book Before Mars

    Before Mars

    Geologist Anna Kubrin is just beginning her work at the Martian colony when the mystery begins. First she finds a note warning her not to trust the psychiatrist, apparently written in her own hand. Then she finds a footprint in a place where supposedly no human has ever been. Is there a conspiracy afoot, or is Anna losing her mind? 

     
  • The cover of the book Borderline

    Borderline

    Film director and borderline personality disorder sufferer Millie deep sixed her career and lost her legs in the aftermath of a disastrous suicide attempt. Now she has a new gig managing travelers between Hollywood and the realm of faerie. When a fae noble known to the rest of the world as a human movie star goes missing, it falls on Millie to find him.

     
  • The cover of the book The Devil in Silver

    The Devil in Silver

    A Novel

    After being thrown in a psychiatric ward for a crime he doesn’t quite remember committing, a man joins forces with his fellow patients to confront a supernatural predator that haunts the ward. Unable to convince anyone else of the creature’s existence, the patients will have to rely on each other if they want to survive their stay. 

     
  • The cover of the book The Drowning Girl

    The Drowning Girl

    As a person living with schizophrenia, India Morgan Phelps has learned she cannot trust her own mind. Still, there are visions from which she cannot shake free: memories of impossible encounters with uncanny beings that must be real. What is the truth behind them? She’ll do whatever she has to in order to find out. 

     
  • The cover of the book Hystopia

    Hystopia

    A novel within a novel, Hystopia is an alternate history of the United States in which the assassination attempt on John F. Kennedy was not successful. Now in his third term as president, Kennedy has continued the war in Vietnam. Most veterans of the conflict have their memories erased with powerful drugs when they return home, but not all: Some of them are too damaged to successfully reintegrate into society. Beyond hope, these broken soldiers bring the violence and horror of the war to America’s streets.

     
  • The cover of the book I Am Not a Serial Killer

    I Am Not a Serial Killer

    Sociopath John Cleaver knows that he has all the makings of a serial killer, but so far he’s resisted his dark urges by pretending to be a “normal” teenager. There’s always the possibility of a slip-up, though. Mostly, his condition is a curse, but when what appears to be a full-blown serial killer sets up shop in his community, John’s unique mindset makes him the best person to stop him.

     
  • The cover of the book The Marbury Lens

    The Marbury Lens

    Sixteen year-old Jack survived a kidnapping, but escaping his captors doesn’t mean that no harm was done. Haunted by his experiences, Jack leaves his world behind for one only he can see through a pair of special glasses. In this new world, his best friend is trying to kill him, as well as two young boys he’s responsible for keeping safe.

     
  • The cover of the book A Scanner Darkly

    A Scanner Darkly

    Deep undercover narcotics officer John Arctor starts to lose track of his identity after he becomes hooked on a powerful psychoactive drug. Tumbling ever deeper into a rabbit hole, Arctor becomes consumed with paranoia. Will he recover, or is he destined to become another victim of the War on Drugs?

     
  • The cover of the book Stay Crazy

    Stay Crazy

    A dozen pills a day keeps the hallucinations and paranoia away. Maybe. Emmeline Kalberg is recovering from a severe psychotic episode when she first hears the voice coming from a box of frozen chicken nuggets. It tells her that the employees of the local big box superstore have been coopted by an evil entity with plans for inter-dimensional conquest — a plans that only she can stop. That is, if she can convince her therapist that she’s not suffering a relapse first.

     
  • The cover of the book We Are All Completely Fine

    We Are All Completely Fine

    The last survivor of a cannibal attack, a traumatized supernatural detective, a person who can see spirits, whether they want to or not. They all survived brushes with supernatural horrors, and now they’ve formed a support group. Will talking about their experiences help them heal, or summon their tormenters for another dose of terror?

     
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