“I’m just over all the YA books.” This admission threw me off. First because my knee jerk reaction was just to agree. I can only tolerate so much teenaged angst before I throw up a little in my mouth. Plus, I have my own angst to deal with and my problems don’t involve love triangles with two hot guys. (Yeah, I wish.)
Why all the popularity with YA books? They are classified as “Young Adult” but they have become favorite reading material for those of us that are firmly in the adult category. Speaking for myself, (but maybe one or two of you would agree) I have been pleasantly surprised by some fantastic YA books like HUNGER GAMES, CINDER, ANGELFALL, GRACELING and other books like them. They do have teenage hero’s but the storyline is adult without all the heavy relationship/sex that sometimes muddies a great story. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good bodice ripper but after a page or two of heaving bosoms and throbbing loins, I will just skip ahead to resume the story.
There are still lots of YA books that are just the high school version of “Shades of Grey” but it turns out these classification like “Young Adult” have more to do with how the book is marketed and not for the consumer; the reader.
They should market books like movies with the classification on content and not market groups. If we had ratings and advisories like: Language, Violence, Sex, & Adult Situations, we could let the story speak for itself and have a better understanding of the content. Otherwise, the publisher’s (Who are doing the marketing for these books.) are classifying books according to the book main protagonist. In this case, you may classify a book like Karen Monings ICED: A FEVER NOVEL with the main character Dani O’Malley a feisty fourteen year old as a “Young Adult” when it’s most definitely an “Adult” read. (This is a great adult fantasy series to check out!)
A new genre that is popping up that contends with these more mature YA novels is call “New Adult.” What is new adult? New Adult is a term coined by Dan Weiss “On Publishing for Gen Y and ‘New Adult’ Literature” and S. Jae-Jones, “New Adult is about young adulthood, when you are an adult but have not established your life as one (career, family, what-have-you).”
New Adult fiction (NA) as a category of literature—meaning, it gives readers content expectations, but it does not dictate genre-based criteria. Typically, a novel is considered NA if it encompasses the transition between adolescence—a life stage often depicted in Young Adult (YA) fiction—and true adulthood.
Protagonists typically fall between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six, though exceptions may apply. NA characters are often portrayed experiencing: college, living away from home for the first time, military deployment, apprenticeships, a first steady job, a first serious relationship, etc.
Other terms for NA include: Upper YA, Crossover Fiction, and Mature YA.
Writer and actress Adrienne Kress describes New Adult as “work that isn’t quite adult and isn’t really YA”—i.e., “college-age stories, or stories with individuals just out of high school.” New Adults are somewhere in between. As the saying goes: old enough to know better, but still too young to care. That distinction might seem subtle, but it comes through loud and clear in the voice of New Adult fiction.
I do like the new classification of New Adult but I’m not sure it’s accurate characterization for the reader to know at first blush if the book is for them. Would SHADES OF GREY be considered New Adult since the protagonist does fit in this 18-26 year old age range? I say it should not be merely because the character may be coming of age but the content is very mature.
I have seen some author’s (mostly Indie author’s) put advisory labels in the description so that readers know that, even if Amazon puts their books in the YA column, they are letting the consumer know that it does have explicit sex or language. This makes great sense from a marketing standpoint because if you front load your reader with expectations they are more likely to buy the book and give it positive reviews.
Whether you classify these growing market’s of books as New Adult, Young Adult, Upper YA, Crossover Fiction, or Mature YA, we can all agree that they don’t speak to the age of the reader and shouldn’t put a stigma on those of us that love this genre.