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A Reader of Fictions: Why I'm Still Not on Board with New Adult

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why I'm Still Not on Board with New Adult

This topic has been done just about to death, and, believe me, I understand it if you want to move right along from this post because you're sick of the endless commentary. I've had a lot of discussions on Twitter about this, and really wanted the freedom to organize my thoughts in more than 140 characters.

Just to be clear, before I start, I have nothing against the books themselves. Reading is great, and I support all reading. This is about classification of books, not the books themselves, okay?

What I Like About It
Now, listen, I'm not saying that I hate the idea behind new adult or that I don't think these books should have been written or anything like that. I do think that with new adult, there's a recognition of a span of life that hasn't been covered enough in fiction. There's really not all that much contemporary literature (that I've found) about being a single person in college/late teens/early 20s, and dealing with the unique issues of that age group. I specify single, solely because I think getting married young and, even more, having children sort of changes the game a bit.

There certainly are books about people age 18-25, but most of the ones I've found were romances or "chick lit," all about young women finding love and hot sex. Thus far, that's all new adult has really offered up.

There's SO MUCH MORE going on in life than that, and, based on my life, very little of that happening anyway. Plus, there's not nearly enough fiction about heroines who are in no way ready to settle down or books about what college is actually like. A great example of the latter done well is Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, which, incidentally is marketed as YA, since it doesn't involve hot sex. Now, new adult could certainly evolve, and will need to if it's going to legitimize, but, so far, there's been little that didn't fall in the romance genre.

More books about the experiences one undergoes entering adulthood are definitely needful, but I want to see this across genres, and I don't want it to be all based on the age of the main character.

What's My Age Again?
There's a move to determine what the appropriate audience for a book is based on the protagonist's age, and I don't agree with that. There are obvious examples where that simply does not work, like Room by Emma Donoghue, which is about a young child, but obviously not for young readers. Or, what about books written from multiple perspectives, some teen and some adult, like Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin?

For me, the only dividing up by age group that makes sense (which doesn't mean other methods aren't valid, just that I don't personally understand them), aside from reading level, is by the issues covered. For example, a teen goes through a lot of life changes that an adult does not, like a lot of first experiences, school, and that first sort of coming of age. A new adult would go through college, that first step away from home or the first living space without parents.

Also, this = adulthood. Freedom to do stupid stuff, since you bought the furniture.

The problem with this, though, is that you can come of age anytime. At no point are we set in stone as who we are and will be forevermore. I'm still learning and changing all of the time. A stark example might be someone who married very young, divorced or widowed and alone for the first time ever. As an adult, they might be going through a lot of firsts on their own, and, though they might not be new to adulthood, they might be going through some new adult experiences for the first time. Or, what about kids who are forced into adulthood early, working jobs and not going to school so they can support deadbeat parents or themselves? Just because someone isn't 18 doesn't mean they don't live the life of an adult with all sort of mature, adult responsibilities.

Plus, there are all sorts of ages or times of life that have unique experiences. Are we going to divide them all up and make categories of literature for them? Literature aimed solely at the over 60s, for example. Is there any end to it?

Age so little determines where we are in life, especially once past the age of mandatory schooling. Such designations become even more complex in fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction or novels set in cultures that aren't much like those in first world countries.

What's in a Name?
If we are going to create a whole new audience age grouping, can we choose a better name for it? I feel like that ship may have sailed, but "New Adult" is such an unfortunate name. For example, I've seen an author tweet about her "new adult book," by which she meant her new book for adults, not her new new adult book. Also, "new adult" makes sentences that include the phrase "new new adult" a necessity. Is this really a good plan?

What I Wish
At this point, we're going to enter my little fictional dystopian society where I rule over everything as a non-benevolent dictator, and, please, take all of this with a few grains of salt and more as a way to get ideas rolling than me declaring my way or the highway.

As it is, determining whether a book is YA or adult can be tricky; I've disagreed with others on where a book belonged with titles like Stormdancer, Finnikin of the Rock, Golden Boy, and Death Watch. To some degree, I really don't think it matters in the slightest whether they're books for teens or for adults. It's just hard for me to even think that YA needs to be distinguished from Adult, since I was reading from the adult section by middle school. Obviously, everyone moves at their own pace, but, mostly, I feel like by the time you're ready for the most popular YA titles (The Hunger Games, Divergent, The 5th Wave, etc.), you're probably ready to read adult books. Plus, in my experience, the quality of writing in YA is pretty much on par with that in adult fiction overall, ranging from incredibly simple to unbelievably complex and intricate.

A sassy hairflip to the people who thinks YA isn't as good as adult.

I'd like to see much more of the dividing up of age group done by reading level, and just combine upper YA with adult. Tagging in libraries and online bookish sites would make it pretty simple to locate books about people in college or high school or undergoing divorces.

Now, I recognize that there are serious flaws with this desire. For example, I remember seeing somewhere that a Mitch Albom book came in at a second grade reading level, but it's still probably not a children's book. I'm not really sure what to do with that.

Obviously, I don't have a magical solution to offer at all. Mostly, I just have a gut instinct feeling that there's no need to further separate the books by age group. Adults are already huge readers of YA, and I just don't think those in the new adult age range or the adult age range would be exclusively reading stories about their own age group. The idea of separating out the children's books was to help readers find books they're intellectually and emotionally ready for, and I don't see that being the case with new adult. 

What Say You?
At this point, I'd like to hear what you guys think. I'm sure most of you want have similar "CATEGORIES. WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING CATEGORIES" approach, and that's fine. Basically, I would like to hear, in more than 140 characters, your thoughts on this. Do you feel further subdivisions of adult fiction by "intended audience" are helpful? What are your guy instincts about the whole new adult thing?

Total awareness will help us solve this difficulty.



Blogger Unknown said...

I'm loving the friends GIFs so much! I'm not really experienced on the NA genre, meaning that I didn't read much to form an opinion, but I've read enough summaries and reviews. The biggest problem with NA is that it stopped being a general genre or age-group to being this limited, overdone mess of a plot. Like Fangirl, even if the protagonist is the "right" age, there are certain limitations for it to be considered a NA. Which is annoying because in my POV, there is no "indications" as to what can or can not be NA. It's one of those I-know-it-when-I-see-it cases. I mean what makes a novel NA and not simply adult? The age of the MC has a lot to do with it, but still, it is a very limited range for an author to write in. Plus New Adult has somewhat become synonymous with Erotica, or sexualized YA.

Also, I didn't notice it before, but damn.. it does have an unfortunate name. Maybe an author can say my new NA? ..Nah, still sounds weird.

June 26, 2013 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Blogger10 said...

Your first point is the one that gets me the most about this genre. Not everybody's early 20's/post college years are all about hot sex and hookups. I am totally turned off by the genre for that reason alone. It's an entirely one-sided view.

Last year I read Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close. All of the characters are in their early/mid 20's and the book is AWESOME. One of my favorites. Is there some sex/hookups? Yes, but there's also work-related stress, family issues, etc. and the romance aspects are built into the character's emotional maturity throughout the novel. THAT'S what I would love to see from more of these "new adult" books. Though I don't even know if a moniker like that is needed for them.

June 26, 2013 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Thanks! Choosing Friends gifs was part of the fun..

Exactly, if NA is going to be a thing, then it shouldn't be only if it includes certain themes. There need to be all kinds of genres and varying experiences of becoming an adult, of transitioning out of the teen experience. The fact that most of it reads like YA with a lot of sex is definitely a weakness, especially when I see that label applied to books about younger kids who are dealing with teen issues, but who have lots of graphic sex.

Haha, and of course the abbreviations stands for Not Applicable. Funny that.

June 26, 2013 at 3:15 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I mean, the problem is that it IS a genre for the most part right now, though I've started seeing some dystopian and fantasy ones, but mostly it's just romance. That does not a category make.

Ooh, thanks for the recc. I do want to read more books like that, for sure, but I think I could find them on my own with a little bit of digging, you know?

June 26, 2013 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Kimberly @ Midnight Book Girl said...

I have so much to say about this!

What's my age again? - I agree that basing it on the characters age does not work for all books, however I don't really have a problem with new adult becoming a category (I have other issues though).

What's in a name? - 1000% this. New Adult is a terrible name, though I can offer no alternatives.

What you wish - Categorizing by reading level would not be ideal for me. I took a class and I had to write a short paper on reading levels and I think that would be a hot mess IMO.

What I think - I like categorizing things so I like the idea of New Adult but I feel like in order for it to become a legitimate category of books like YA, MG, Adult, Children's it needs to be more than contemporary or contemporary romance. I realize that it's about "coming of age" but just like YA books have teenagers going through teenager things during apocalypses, alien invasions, murders (just to name a few) then so can people in their early 20's. I want to see some mysteries or thrillers or dystopians or really anything different from contemporary.

Two other random thoughts
1. I saw the other day someone classified Pushing the Limits as New Adult. *confused*
2. More sex should not be a qualifier for New Adult books.

June 26, 2013 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I do think it would be sort of a hot mess, but I basically just want to separate out the kids' books up to middle grade, and then just call the rest for mature readers.

There are a few of those I've seen, but I'm not sure if they're not still very romance/sex-heavy. That will remain to be seen.

1. WHAT? That is illogical! I guess Noah's thinking about how to be able to raise his brothers, but the end result was he wasn't ready for that responsibility, so YA. And everything with Echo, YA.
2. Agreed.

June 26, 2013 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger Christina Reads YA said...

Haha, this reminds me of our discussion on Goodreads. I've linked to this post in my new book-related round-up of links and am looking forward to reading the response you'll get.

"The problem with this, though, is that you can come of age anytime. At no point are we set in stone as who we are and will be forevermore."

Yes. Also, nice reference to Fangirl. What Rowell does with the college setting and coming of age tale is what I wish most NA would do.

"For example, I've seen an author tweet about her "new adult book," by which she meant her new book for adults, not her new new adult book."

So true lol. I had never even thought of that. I just hated the title on an instinctual basis.

"I'd like to see much more of the dividing up of age group done by reading level, and just combine upper YA with adult."

Yeah... 'cause then how do you draw the reading level line? I don't know that there is any simple solution to the problem. I do think that tags on a book would be helpful. I think a lot of NA could be summed by: "#college #sex #romance #coming-of-age" - something along those lines, and if we had some sort of program that could let you view titles based on multiple hashtags, that would work out... Okay, I'm getting far ahead of myself, but that's about all I've got, since this is a question I wonder about a lot.

June 26, 2013 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I'm afraid this will piss some people off, but I'm really just trying to put forward some alternate perspectives of the whole thing, because I have a couple weird ways of looking at things. People can think what they want, but I wanted to say my, admittedly odd and imperfect, piece.

YES. I will read any book like Fangirl in its focus of being on your own for the first time and finding yourself and college courses.

Well, now you can hate it with logical backing.

Oh yeah, I know it doesn't work exactly, but that's sort of how I want it to be. It's the best I can put it into words at the moment. Basically, I think the internet would solve a lot of it, because if you want a book about college, you can go to Goodreads and go to listopia and find college books. Library websites have the LC subject headings for those too. It's possible, just not in B&N.

June 26, 2013 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger Steena said...

Remember when there was the children's section and "Young Adult" was "Juvenile Fiction" (which, granted, Juvenile is not a great term) - consisting predominately of things like Babysitter's Club - and then everything else was just fiction broken down by genre? I was cool with that.

I get that there's this weird stage between the ages of 10 and 15 where maybe you aren't ready to have access to all literature but when did that stage broaden to include all high school and now potentially college? I get that bookstores and libraries need to have some system of categorizing by age because parents don't tend to do their research. But decidedly by the time I was considered "Young Adult" I was reading adult books. And I have never in my life felt like I shouldn't read or enjoy a book because I am not in the character's age range. I have serious issues with delineating reader compatibility by the age of the protagonist - I guess I can NEVER enjoy P&P again for I am well beyond being "not yet one and twenty."

I may be risking personal injury by saying this but, not only do I consider New Adult a needless category, I feel Young Adult is an unnecessary category as well. Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc - YA is breaking the levy on readership, so why classify them as being for just teens when obviously more than just teens are enjoying them?

June 26, 2013 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

I guess I'm not that bothered by the New Adult category. I don't love it, but I think a lot of books these days defy categories. Part of me thinks that NA is just an excuse to further sex up YA, but not every NA book I've read featured steamy smex. I do think New Adult is here to stay... For the time being.

June 26, 2013 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger Debby said...

PRAISE this post, first of all, very well said! It's so complicated, for sure, and very difficult to articulate what would be best. I think the New Adult category is indeed unfortunately all about the hotter romances, and that's why I actually haven't touched a single one yet. Not really purposefully, but I'm not a contemporary romance girl in the first place, so I haven't been swayed by any of them. It should be more about transitions to independence... in which case, Just One Day by Gayle Forman could ALSO be classified as New Adult.

But I think the category names are oddly misleading. I think it really doesn't have much to do with age, but more with the expectations for the book. Young adult is lighter than adult, and new adult is mature romance, nowadays. Further subdivisions I fear would only really complicate it even more. I mean, we already have books that don't fit in one category precisely, and adding more categories won't necessarily help, and might make books harder to find. I dunno. I'm all about organization - but something like this has to be aimed at the mass market, and coming from a marketing background, I can tell you they don't like complicated systems.

I'm all gungho for more categories, but people are already questioning whether the New Adult distinction was even necessary. So I dunno.

June 26, 2013 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Why, yes, birthday twin, indeed I do. In OUR day, there wasn't really much aside from children's books, and the few YA offerings were unfortunate. That worked. I don't think reading adult books hurt me. I turned out okay, didn't I? *glares challengingly*

I agree to, but it seems like you could sort of expand YA a little bit and then put the mature YA with adult and that would work alright. I still read books for every age group. I've been known to be super impressed with a picture book as an adult. A good book is a good book, regardless of intended age of audience. Some aren't great for those who aren't in that place in life, but that just depends.

DO NOT SAY SUCH THINGS. Unhappy thought, indeed.

YESSSSSS, you are my opinion twin today. I really don't see the point either. On some small level, yes, but mostly no. ESPECIALLY, since my library goes through and puts most of the young adult books with any swearing or sexual content in adult fiction anyway.

June 26, 2013 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Lili said...

So, I actually almost wrote on of these things myself, but you beat me to the topic (and I'm so glad you did).

I really want to love new adult. I'm an 18 year old and it's easier for me to relate to college age kids than it is for me say a 14/15/16 year old young adult mc. Is it possible for me to relate to them? Yes, it's just harder. So I easily gravitated towards new adult.

And then I read EASY by Tammara Webber and I realized that new adult is just perfect for me. Here are two characters with such raw emotions that I can relate to. And while there is sex, it wasn't in your face sex. It was there to further their relationship and show they loved each other, not because they wanted to have crazy wild sex.

But there's a growing trend I've been noticing in new adult and that is that it's an excuse to write sex scenes for a younger audience. And that's all it is. I actually have a review going up tomorrow that I needed to have Gillian de-claw slightly because this new adult book DISGUSTED me so much. It made it seem like being a 19 year old virgin was wrong among a bunch of other things. But what bugged me is that thousands of people love this. It's one of THOSE on Goodreads you know? And I sat there thinking: what the hell is this?! Where is the emotion?! They've known each other for three weeks and they're declaring their love only while having sex? Because, clearly, sex is the only way to love someone. Not like emotions are behind it or anything. And it's almost like this author found a formula to success. Poor girl, rich guy, lots of sex. More sex. I hate you, so let's have more sex. That's really it.

Sorry about that rant, but back to the point.

I don't mind sex in books. Sex is part of life. It's not as if it doesn't exist or anything. It's real and I support realism. But I don't support sex for the sake of having sex, or graphic details to appeal to a certain obvious, the forgetting of emotions and what it really means to love. So much sex that the characters seem like addicts. Where's the realism? Isn't NA supposed to have to do with REALITY.

I think that the genre is getting ruined by authors who think it's an option to deliver a ton of sex to a younger audience. Then I look back at EASY and think there's a little bit of hope left. and FANGIRL. and PUSHING THE LIMITS. It sucks that you have to look damn hard in the rough for those few NA diamonds now. But then again, I see 14/15/16 year olds talking about "their smexy covers" and the "sex god boys" and the "smutty contents" and I have no wonder why these books sell. It gives younger girls something to read about that, well, they shouldn't really be reading about just yet. I used to love the genre, but it worries me a little now. There are books for those of us who appreciate emotional bonds and true stories. And then there's some of us who just want a good slew of sex scenes to keep them happy. Everyone's a different type of reader, but it seems the genre is tending to lean more towards one of those types of readers than the other.

While I think further categorizing things would be difficult, it's almost as if we need a "sex addicts to the left" sign (not that anyone here really is an addict but you get what I'm saying) with some of these things. New adult is really just adult novels with younger characters. They're no longer the coming of age stories they were originally meant to be, and that's the disappointing thing.

This was a really long rant, and for that I'm sorry. haha but yeah, this review that's going up tomorrow, it's a doozy... >_<

June 26, 2013 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I don't think all of it reads like YA, honestly, but I don't see how it's not garden variety romance.

June 26, 2013 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Only recently have I become a contemporary girl, and, mostly, the new adult novels don't interest me. However, I haven't disliked any of the ones I've picked up, though I've been very careful about picking them up. Just One Day is another perfect example, and I remember thinking that when I read it. Even has a singular hot sex scene!

This is basically the point I was trying to make through exaggeration. It's not like it's hard to find mature romance as it is, so why do we need a category for it? Plus, young adult isn't always lighter than adult. At all.

I'm all gungho for more tagging/classifications, but I don't think we need more age groupings.

June 26, 2013 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Experiment BL626 said...

Coming soon to a bookstore near you: Middle Age Adult Books.

LOL. I wonder how many of us "NA" are actually reading NA like it's a favorite genre. I have read a few NA but I feel no desire to dig into the category. Isn't NA just really Romance but with younger characters?

June 26, 2013 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hahaha, you can always write more. I pretty much ended by contradicting myself, so I'm not really on a sure footing. There are more things to be said, AND I bet there are some more ideas in these comments/THERE TOTALLY ARE!

I'm 25, but, in general, my life has more in common with that of a teen than a married adult on some levels. New adult's sort of where I should be living too, because I've still got a lot of first experiences to get through, but I am also an adult and independent and all that.

Easy was pretty great, and fairly close to what NA should be. I think Cora Carmack's are an acceptable level of actually dealing with new adult issues. Fangirl and Just One Day too. Most of the rest, while I enjoyed the ones I read were just romance novels, which is fine, but not needful for a whole category of fiction.


In my experience, the hottest scenes are often not all that graphic. I mean, describing what the body parts are all doing and the sounds and stuff, well, often makes make me laugh uproariously.

More later. Have to do Cover Snark, but I have more to say.

June 26, 2013 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well, I very much enjoyed the Friends GIFs.

As far as I'm aware, I haven't read a single New Adult book (I agree with you, it's a stupid name for a category) and I'm not inclined to start yet. The thing is, every single one I see seems to be a romance. I don't know if you're familiar with Torchwood, the Doctor Who spinoff, but I felt that the writers realised they could put in sex and swearing and just went mad with it, forgetting the importance of strong characters and stories. That's my impression of the NA category at the moment - writers realised they could put sex into the books and have decided not to bother with anything else. I'd love to see, for example, a NA sci-fi or fantasy, something that isn't just a romance. If anybody knows of any, feel free to send recommendations!

June 26, 2013 at 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. You've articulated my opinions exactly. I just read this article about early books intended for children and how there were "boys' books" and "girls' books" and never the twain could meet. Which is seriously silly because all that happened was that most girls read their brothers' books while most boys didn't read books that belonged to their sisters because of the shame attached to reading "girly" books. Which all led to boys losing out as the spectrum of material available to them was limited. (The article is by Elizabeth Segal.) Anyway, my point is, there's really no need to further classify YA books as "New Adults" because New Adults = Young Adults. As you said, the novels may be "officially" targeted at a certain age group but they will be read by whosoever wants to. And I think that instead of classifying books, it would make more sense to elaborate on the themes and settings in the books which could still create a niche for themselves.

June 26, 2013 at 6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhhh I wrote about this topic last month along with how self-worth seems to be portrayed in New Adult books. I have the same problem as you do when it comes to this new genre. Like you said there is so much more going on in the lives of people in their twenties that don't revolve around hot sex or romance. Moving back home after university, or going to university, student debt, having no routine after graduating, not knowing what you want to do. Those are issues that are serious and most people are in the same boat about them. Sure there are people who are in relationships and probably do have hot sex or something, but that doesn't count for everybody.Even the name, I've found most NA Books in the Teens section and I'm always confused. Since online its marketed differently and in bookstores it's a different thing. Also totally off topic, but the covers make me cringe. I don't think I'd ever be able to sit on the bus or the subway and read a NA book without feeling judged. The covers just seem so corny and cheesy. But that's just me though. I'm so glad to see people talking about this genre and the problems they have with it as well as why they like it.


June 26, 2013 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Alexia Boesen said...

Okay first of all I loooove the Friends GIF's SO much. Second of all I haven't really read enough NA to have an opinion. My reading tastes are all over the place. What I WILL say is that NA does tend to have a LOT of sex in it which drives me completely batty. Yes,yes I know many people will say "But sex sells" Well that may be true but that's not the only thing that should be in a NA book. NA should be more about discovering yourself in a more "grown up way" than YA does. No,no that does NOT mean that every page should be filled with sex.If you can't seem to write an NA book without making sex a big component,then you're doing it wrong.

Okay enough ranting :)

June 26, 2013 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Tabitha (Pabkins) said...

I agree the dividing up be age group of the protagonist is just wrong. I just read one that had a 17 year old as one of the main characters and it was SO not YA - it was very much adult...adult "situations" etc. I'm not a New Adult fan either. I just can't get behind it - plus have you see those covers!!? I know you have they are just wretched.

June 26, 2013 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger molly wetta said...

Categories can help people find the right books and they can also be limiting. I think the verdict is still out on whether New Adult will be effective at helping readers find the books they are looking for, but in the mean time it's interesting to see so many perspectives.

June 26, 2013 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger Lili said...

Haha I'd love to know what you have to say! <3 Tweet me when it goes up so I can check. And it's FALLEN TOO FAR by Abbi Glines. You'll see it tomorrow morning. hate, hate, hate.

June 26, 2013 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

I think the categories on a library spectrum (hooray for being in a big branch with readers!) lead more reluctant readers to those books. I don't think it's as intimidating to approach that section if it'marketed toward the interested party. We don't have a NA section, but if we did, I'd pitch it as YA daring with grown-up situations. And sex.

June 26, 2013 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Abbi Glines. OMG. I am excited for this review. Not sure if I'll have time to get to it in the morning, but I WILL AT SOME POINT.

Huh. Gotta say that I don't see the NA side to PTL. That one's all YA to me. The closest it gets is Noah and his plans to adopt his brothers, but he basically realizes he's not ready yet. But, again, that's a great example of how it's not really set in stone and these boundaries are SO fuzzy!

A good sex scene can be awesome, but when it's endless, they all tend to read sort of the same. The tension building up and a couple good scenes here and there really work for me so much better!

LOL. If I were good at graphics, I would make you a SEX ADDICTS TO THE LEFT sign.

June 26, 2013 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger Lili said...

Haha it's long, and I call her characters mean names, and tell them I hate them. But they deserve it, so.

But, see, it is NA. At first I thought it was mature YA, but it's NA because of its darker themes and it has intimate scenes that aren't detailed and I like NA with that.

Yeah, a good sex scene is great, but not like 10 in a row. Just stop.

June 26, 2013 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Well, my interpretation is that the distinction is more about life events, and they're going through teenage life events/problems. I don't think dark automatically means above YA. But, that's part of the issue. I think NA could be a fluffy contemporary comedy about buying your first house and everything going wrong or it could be a tragic, dark tale about completely falling apart without your parents as a safety net.

HAHAHA, you should read Paullina Simons. BAHAHAHA. I am evil.

June 26, 2013 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger Brandy said...

Yes. Yes. And Yes.

I agree with you that books don't need to be categorized by age post doing it to help parents find books for their kids. Then you just need genre divisions. Seriously how far are we going to take this age breakdown thing?

My favorite part:
Age so little determines where we are in life, especially once past the age of mandatory schooling. Such designations become even more complex in fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction or novels set in cultures that aren't much like those in first world countries.

June 26, 2013 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Alise said...

Nice post! I actually don't like New Adult for the sole reason that every plot is pretty much the same: bad guy, good girl. But I completely agree on the point you made about age. I think New Adult is just basically adult, does it really need a whole new category?

Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

June 26, 2013 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger Bekka said...

I love this post. I used to disagree with your stance on NA, but after I've read a few NA titles, I've changed my mind. To me, NA shouldn't even be a category. At this point, the only thing that the "genre" has put out is romance and because of that, these books should just be classified as romance - nothing more. Isn't that where they're found in the book stores anyway? I don't really know because I haven't seen any NA titles in an actual book store before.

June 26, 2013 at 11:31 PM  
Blogger Faye M. said...

I really agree with your point regarding the main theme of New Adults being their coming of age... I think that can be seen everywhere, from MG to Adult... a lot of the characters grow from their trials and tribulations, and it would be kind of weird to just say "Oh, NA is about someone finally maturing etc. etc." well... there are many books in YA like that, too, sans the naked guy cover, yeah? Haha. I went to the Netgalley section for NA and at that time, 8 out of 9 books looked like erotica novels!! Errr..

It's just mature YA to me *shrug*

Faye @ The Social Potato

June 27, 2013 at 7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are SO not the only one. Even though I've read so many NA books, I just can't seem to fall into all the hype. I'm not in college yet so I probably don't know half of what's going on in there, but I can bet on my life that not everyone goes into college, falls in love with a bad boy (it's always bad boys; what happened to originality?), and has "hot sex," like you said. And also, I agree with you that the age of the protagonist in a book doesn't determine the book's genre. The MC can be a twenty-year-old college student in a book with erotica, but that doesn't make it New Adult. At all. That's genre abuse, and it's wrong.

But to answer your question: I think the concept behind New Adult is fine - it's great, actually, because to me it serves as a warning that this book is going to be more mature than the usual young adult reads, and this book focuses more on college life, rather than high school. But what I don't like is how every NA book has the same plot, same characters, same everything - just with a different name. Like you, I want to see more from this genre, different perspectives, different stories, not the same old, same old! At the rate it's going right now, though, that doesn't seem very likely.

June 27, 2013 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Becky LeJeune said...

Meh - I'd definitely like to see more genres covered. Basically I'm on board simply because I never could understand why an entire age group was being written off as unappealing to the reading community. So in that sense, a new trend in publishing more books with college aged characters is great in my opinion. I'm disappointed that all it's covered so far seems to be contemporary romance.

June 27, 2013 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Kailia Sage said...

For me, the biggest issue I have with NA is the age categorizing: Most people have been saying NA is 17-25 and all I can think is: NO. Most of the NA I've read are about hook ups and random meetings and sexy times but reality isn't like that. College isn't depicted like what I know college to be (I'm starting in August but I know that there is a lot of stress when it comes to school) and that's frustrating. Not everyone goes to college to party (I know I won't). And to say that all 17-25 year olds will have the same life is wrong. I know someone who is 22, married, has a child, and is in school. Would her story be considered NA? I'd think not. But doesn't the age break up say that it should be? Confusion!

Honestly, the lines between YA and NA are too blurry to really categorize. While I can understand what NA is trying to do, I just don't think it'll work!

June 27, 2013 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Yes to everything you've said.
The only main addition I have is that it's been accepted for quite a while that books told through a certain POV are not necessarily for readers that age. Like To Kill a Mockingbird and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (I believe).
Honestly, this new adult stuff should just go away. New adults are no longer teenagers - they're adults. I think they should just be classified as adult fiction. They're done growing physically. And if new adult really sticks, what then? Should we have stories delinated by all adult age groups: 30s, 40s, 70s, etc? There needs to be a limit. And by limiting a book to a certain "audience group," you're limiting the amount of people outside of that group who will actually read it. It seems like little more than a marketing ploy to me.
I agree there isn't an easy solution, but there has to be something better than this right now.

June 28, 2013 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

A lot of it has to do with marketing, Christina. Does it piss me off? Yes. But I also get pissed off by urban fantasy books getting paranormal romance covers which cheats the right audience out of a good book and disappoints the audience which bought the book based on the cover.

Unfortunately here you have a twofold problem: on one side if the "genre" and a certain type of story sells well, it will continue to produce more formulaic sameness, on the other side authors which are different will get buried under that mountain and will stay largely unnoticed which will harm their sales and won't attract the publishers or readers who have no way of knowing that after reading 20 same old scenarios in new adult, they might encounter something completely different.

BTW, please read Penelope by Rebecca Harrington! It's adorable and totally on topic of college books with different issues :)

June 29, 2013 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hahaha, I'm sure.

Basically, yes, from what I can tell, though, honestly, the ages aren't that different from romance novels I read as a teen. Pick up a historical romance novel and the girl's probably from 17 to 22, with the guy a bit older. Sound familiar? It's more like romance novels with tattoos.

July 1, 2013 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

That Torchwood/Doctor Who example is perfection. I mean, I actually enjoyed Torchwood, but I hadn't seen Doctor Who at that point. It does sort of feel like that, though, thankfully, most of them have at least made the characters of age.

July 1, 2013 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hurrah. That feels like a victory. It also suggests that you're a bit confused and grumpy about the whole thing too. I HATE the girl and boy book thing. I mean, I get that there's a slight separation, in that girls and boys do go through different things as they come of age, in that they have different parts. However, there's no reason to focus on that when so much of the experience is the same. Also, if we didn't do that, kids would probably be more open and friendly and less OMG COOTIES.

The themes and settings seem so much more important to me as well. So long as you can find the sort of book with themes you want, who cares what age group it was written for, so long as your reading level is up to snuff to understand it? I think new adults are adults. At whatever age, there will be a transition, but I think that's part of the adult experience, not the YA one.

July 1, 2013 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Truth. Those themes definitely need to be covered. Also things like the difficulty of choosing the first apartment, house, car. All of those things require niche knowledge you might not have at that age. Personally, romance has hardly been a part of my life yet, and I'm almost 26. I mean, would I have liked for my "new adult" years to involve a lot of hot sex with a Scottish guy? Hell yeah, but that's not what's in the cards for most people.

Book stores don't have enough to make a section at this point, so they're going to have to choose between YA and adult. Weird they'd go YA frankly. What have you seen there?

July 1, 2013 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

My reading tastes are too, so I get it. NA does have quite a bit of sex, yes. I don't mind that, but I think a little generally goes a long way, since such scenes tend to be repetitive, and too much detail often lessens the sexiness of it for me.

July 1, 2013 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Bahahaha, everyone knows I've seen those covers. They're on the same logic as the movie versions of Sparks novels: white people kissing.

July 1, 2013 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Maybe I'm wrong and just a miser in my rocking chair, but only time will tell.

July 1, 2013 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

YA daring. LOL. Not my impression of it at all. Most of the NA books are still ebooks, so more need to be picked up by the pubs libraries purchase from before you could really make a section of them.

July 1, 2013 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

With kids, it makes so much sense for reading level, but that shouldn't be a huge issue after a certain point, so why do we keep doing it? O_O

July 1, 2013 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think I've read one NA book and that was a long time ago before it even became a thing so I'm not sure it would still be considered NA.. holy crap, stop me. Lol Okay, enough rambling. I fully agree with you here. You put it so much better than I ever could.

July 1, 2013 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger Susan Elizabeth said...

I keep hearing about NA, but wasn't sure exactly what it encompassed, so this weekend I checked out a couple of NA Book Clubs on Goodreads and it seemed that they were all steamy romances. I like your idea that this genre should encompass everything that happens to that age group and not just sex & romance.

Also, this is my first time on your blog and I hope all (or at least most) of your posts have Friends gifs :)

July 1, 2013 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I haven't checked out much NA mostly because it does seem to be all about the steam and sex and I tend not to like this books (I'll just go with a traditional romance when I want that.) I'm unsure about it as a category either although it is interesting to see all the discussion surrounding it. I wonder if similar talk happened when YA started breaking out as I don't really remember. How much is fueled by self-publishing and the internet?

July 2, 2013 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

True. I've been reading a couple where it was a bad girl and a good boy, and I can roll with that. I like romance that flips the gender roles. And, no, I don't think it does need a new category.

July 2, 2013 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

So far it's much closer to a genre than a category, and, honestly, even if it diversifies, I still don't see that it can't be put in YA or Adult depending.

July 2, 2013 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Exactly! In my opinion, we're all coming of age all the time. Sure, coming of middle age isn't the same thing as coming of teenagerhood, but there are commonalities.

What I've read would fall more under adult to my mind, but *shrugs*

July 2, 2013 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I've read a handful, and I've not read any I've disliked, but I still just do not see that they're doing anything revolutionary in fiction. Actually, I've read a couple that weren't bad boys, but that's true of the ones that are most representative of the genre.

See, I don't like that concept so much. If it's just mature YA, then put it in YA. If it's adult, put it in adult. I don't like the concept of segregating the mature YA books, since teens generally already know about all of those mature issues and have to deal with them, so it's sort of ridiculous to say they can't handle reading about sex when they might be having it.

July 2, 2013 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

As would I. I don't think it's so much a new trend though. The books are there if you look for them, though I do think that more books about college students and others that age sounds great, but I think they can fit in the existing categories.

July 2, 2013 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Sana said...

First off, Friends GIFs *thumbs up*

You're right about the name, it makes no sense whatsoever. Also, most of the NA I've read contains a lot of sex which is pretty frustrating. It's like if there's no hot sex involved with someone you shouldn't probably have sex in the first place, then that book is... exactly what? YA, that's what.

Also, most of the NA is pretty much self-published which begs the question whether authors are making huge changes in their manuscripts in order to publish NA for better exposure than plain old YA. Because y'know NA just didn't evolve overnight.

July 11, 2013 at 2:04 AM  

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