So What is New Adult?

I just finished reading A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and it was good but I’m holding off posting my review until closer to it’s May 5 released date as request of the publisher. (If anyone is interested in, you can download the first four chapters on your Nook, Kindle or other devices for free. I would recommend it) However, that hasn’t stopped me from reading what other people are saying about it.  In some of the few reviews I have read, I was surprised to read that many people are calling this book a New Adult title instead of Young Adult.  I mean what’s the difference. According to good old Wikipedia.

New Adult (NA) fiction is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–25 age bracket. St. Martin’s Press first coined the term in 2009, when they held a special call for “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’.” New Adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices

Well that clears things up.  So, it’s YA but marketing to adults.  As for focus of issues of home, developing sexuality and education seem to be pretty normal topics for YA to me.  I’ll give them career choices though.  So is this a marketing ploy?  Is it an easier way for parents, librarians and booksellers to recommend books that are age appropriate?  For readers to find more books they like? Or just another way to put books into catergory?

As for A Court of Thorns and Roses the only difference between it and other YA fantasy novels is well sex.  This book contained some of the most detailed sex scenes I’ve read for a novel directed for young readers.  That being said, it also leaves a lot to the readers imagination but goes much farther then other authors have.  If I was still a bookseller, I wouldn’t recommend it for tweens or younger teens not because I don’t think they could handle it but I would be afraid of the parents reaction.  As for me, I’m also an adult who is not at least bit embarrassed to read YA or even children’s lit. It doesn’t bother me if people see me browsing the Teen aisle or reading Cassandra Clare on the train.  Let them think of me what they want.  I’ll read what I want, whether I was target audience or not. I guess that not many people feel the same about it as I do as there articles and articles about whether or not it’s ok for Adults to read YA or not.  I guess New Adult, might assuage some of the fears of people looking down on them because while New Adult may have my cover many of the same themes as YA is supposedly more sophisticated then YA.  RIght?

So I guess I go back to my original question, what really is New Adult Literature? Is it just YA for the college years and older? A new way for publishers to make money? A guilt free pass for adults to read YA? A legitimate new genre?  Sound off in the comments and tell me what you think.

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3 thoughts on “So What is New Adult?

  1. I wonder if BN and other booksellers will follow suit and create a “New Adult” subcategory in teen fiction. I know it sounds like a marketing ploy, but I think there may be a legitimate need to do that to make it easier for parents and teens to know what books are age appropriate for them in teen fiction. You know the genre a lot more than I do, but then would that mean that they would have to go back and reclassify older titles?

    It also sounds like the distinction of “New Adult” could free up YA authors a lot more creatively because then they might be able to tackle topics and scenarios that they might have to otherwise tone down if the book were being marketed strictly as a YA title. There’s a huge difference to marketing a book to be read by a 16-17 year old as opposed to 13-15 year olds. If an author has to worry about writing so that everyone from 13-17 could read it, it obviously is going to affect their creative choices. So, while I admit I probably know the least about YA out of anyone here, it sounds like the new category of New Adult makes sense at least from a creative perspective of giving authors more freedom with the stories.

  2. At the moment, New Adult titles are just shelved in regular fiction or romance, as I guess BN considers them more Adult titles then Young Adult titles. I do see what you’re saying about it more freeing for Authors. If they know that their books are going to be marketed to a little older audience then they can write as they like. That being said, I don’t know if writers think about it too much. From what I’ve read, a lot of YA authors don’t really shy away from tough subjects. Strong language and sex as well subjects like rape, suicide, PTSD and such have been tackled head on. It’s been quite refreshing. I think the fact that a lot of YA audience is already adults like me that they can get a way with a lot more then they could a decade ago.
    I guess I’m on the fence. As a former bookseller, I could see how it would be helpful for both parents and booksellers finding books age appropriate. But as a reader, I’m not sure age appropriate should really be consideration when picking books for kids. Isn’t it better to introduce such topics to kids in books and open the discussion? There was a study that came out last year that said that the Millienials generation is more tolerant to race and sexuality then any other generation before and used Harry Potter as the reason why. I know that’s a little bit different since that is a kids book with the express purpose for kids. (however, I could argue that the later books are really not meant for young readers but for another post) I just worry, it’s just another way to catergorize books and people. Sometimes, I wish we would just get rid of the genres and just put it all in fiction.

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