Discussion: New Adult Fiction

Posted June 13, 2014 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Discussions / 9 Comments


Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about the new(ish) genre “New Adult Fiction,” with many varying opinions regarding whether it’s a great new idea or just another way to compartmentalize younger readers out of the adult fiction section. It’s still somewhat debated as to whether “New Adult” is an actual genre or a marketing term, but the idea (from what I’ve read and researched) is that it’s a midway point between YA and Adult, focusing on the age range of 18-25 and covering issues such as college, first jobs, starting families, etc.

My primary problem with the concept of “New Adult” is that is implies that readers over 18 are technically out of the YA age bracket. I know there’s been a lot of uproar over a very offensive and poorly written article that came out this month that tried to shame older readers over reading YA, and I feel as though pushing a new genre between YA and adult fiction can be perceived as insulting. It implies that there needs to be a “transition” period to adult fiction and that readers in this age bracket should be transitioned out of YA. Honestly though, at the age of eighteen I was mostly still very immersed in a lot of the topics that YA encompasses, and a lot of YA deals with emotionally mature themes despite having more high-school aged protagonists.

Yet the idea of a “New Adult” genre has its merits, and perhaps its inclusion as a genre would produce more books that cover college and post-graduate characters and topics, because there definitely seems to be a shortage of that (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is really the only YA book I’ve read so far this year that focuses on the college experience, and it was so refreshing to read about that rather unexplored time period in YA lit). While I love YA and will continue to read it as I age, I would agree that there needs to be more fiction inclusive of the 18-25 year old life experience. Do I think that YA is too immature for this age group? Not at all! I think that there is plenty of potential for these topics to be explored within YA, because during the ages of 18-25 most people still identify with the category of “young adult.”

I personally haven’t read any books marketed as “New Adult” so I can’t speak as to how these books read and what their content is like (and if it’s really so much different than YA that it needs its own genre). I would like to though, to see what this genre really encompasses, though I know titles are not abundant as many major publishing houses have not acknowledged the genre.

Have you read any “New Adult” fiction? Do you think it needs to be separate from YA? Is it an innovative idea or an insulting one? Do you have any good recommendations for either NA books or YA books that cover college or post-grad aged protagonists? Do you think NA is marketed too much as a romance genre? I’m really intrigued by this topic, so let me know in the comments!

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9 responses to “Discussion: New Adult Fiction

    • I think there my be some truth about there being more explicit content because the targeted age group is a more mature and experienced audience, but I think that that’s why I’ve heard NA generalized as a “romance” genre. I think it could be a really great area of growth because there’s a lot of unexplored territory in YA. I’m interested to see if it gains steam. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. It sounds much more like marketing than genre to me. About a month ago I was at a writer’s conference in Melbourne with Jane Godwin (Penguin) speaking. I asked her about the number of YA books bought by adults (55% according to Publisher’s Weekly) and whether that was a success in marketing or a failure in writing for young adults. She said there were no hard and fast rules on genre, and I agree, especially since YA is still such a new genre. I don’t think marketers have enough of a clear-cut definition yet for YA to throw a whole new genre in there. If it does help with keeping explicit material away from someone too young for it – 13 is a big difference from 18 – then maybe it could be useful, or just as useful as a parental warning on the front.

    • You make a great point- YA is still such a new genre, and the age group it encompasses is such a wide spectrum in terms of maturity level. NA seems a bit premature, but maybe there needs to be more definition or “levels” within YA to make readers more aware of the content they’re reading.

  2. Hey I just wanted to let you know that I loved your post! Would you mind if I linked it on my blog? My blog is starting as something for class and part of my grade is posting other blogs within my post! Hope you say yes! Your definition of New Adult can be very helpful!

    • Thanks so much for asking! Feel free to go ahead and link it on your blog, I’m glad the information in my post can help! If you don’t mind me asking, what kind of class are you doing a blog for? It sounds so intriguing (and fun!)

  3. Advanced Composition. The only sucky part of it is I am only allowed to post when the schedule says so! So only once a week and there are so many things I want to post! I will definitely continue after class! I am glad I found your page thanks again for giving me permission! =)

  4. Nope, I have not read NA books in my entire life. I think separating NA and YA is such a good idea, considering a lot of people (also me) have zero ideas what makes the two things different.

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