Article Review: New Adult Meme

Posted by on April 22, 2012 in Spotlights | 14 comments

There are many great memes out there, but this one stands out to me. There’s a debate on the concept of “New Adult”. It is basically the gap between YA (up to 19) and adult (usually starting around the 30’s). In short, characters in their twenties dealing with stuff people in their twenties deal with—-and maybe some paranormal on the side.

St. Martin’s started supporting this, but of course it’s a bit difficult to just announce a new genre. First, there’s just the matter of spreading the word. Second, for this one in particular, twenty year olds tend to be a bit busy reading textbooks.

I think there’s potential for this genre, though, especially with e-books making it easier to sneak in a few pages here and there, as well as all the renewed interest in books in general lately, thanks to J.K. Rowling and many others.

One thing that does put me off a little with NA is the assumption that it must be based in the real world. But just like teens go through certain stages in their life, so do twenty-somethings. And that can happen in any world, if it’s written properly.

What do you think of “New Adult”?

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  • Melissa @ Harley Bear Book Blog

    This sounds like a great idea. I’m definitely going to participate! Thanks for sharing.

    • Rainy

      Glad to hear it!

  • Danya

    Thanks so much for posting about my New Adult reading challenge! I agree, it *is* difficult for a publisher to just announce a new genre/category, when people are still debating whether or not it should be a separate category at all. Still, I’m very pleased to see St. Martin’s Press getting on board! Hopefully that will encourage other mainstream publishers to start re-considering their stance on the issue.

    Also, you’re right, the bulk of New Adult books that have been offered up so far have tended to be contemporary or paranormal-in-the-modern-world reads. But I think there are a few fantasy books out there too — I haven’t read it, but Ward Against Death by Melanie Card comes to mind — and perhaps as New Adult becomes legitimized, this will change and twenty-something protagonists in genres like fantasy and sci-fi will become more popular. We can hope! 🙂

    • Rainy

      There is so much excitement starting to build about this. I hope it’s officially recognized soon, because it’s really not cool to have to modify a perfectly legit character who readers would love just to fit into an established category.

  • Becca

    I like those who think of New Adult as a Category.

    Think about it. With Adult, you can have ANY genre (epic fantasy, horror, women’s fiction, contemporary romance, you name it.) Same with YA (fantasy, paranormal romance, contemporary, literary fiction, etc). So, I think the same could be true with New Adult. Like you said, no need to it to be in the real world.

    • Rainy

      Yes, exactly! Category, not genre. Good call.

  • Gabrielle Prendergast

    I think there is something quite fundamental about this growing meme, which has come up for me a number of times over the last few months. My feeling is that the readers of YA, both young and older themselves are looking for books written in the typically unpretentious way that YA books are (NOT Jonathan Franzen for example) but with more sex and swearing, and about young sexy people (like YA) except, you know, legal. So what NA is destined to become perhaps is shorter genre books (NOT George RR Martin for example) and not “literary” (ie faster paced, more plot driven etc) contemporary novels about 20-somethings. Maybe something like Marion Keyes?

    • Rainy

      Well said! There are more readers, and that includes more 20-somethings who want stories and chars that reflect them in the now.

  • Rebecca Enzor

    I consider my novels New Adult fiction because my characters are in their 20s, but none of it is contemporary. I think since it’s Fantasy, and the Fantasy genre spans all life stages, my novels won’t take off as “New Adult” genre unless it becomes as big a genre in it’s own right as Fantasy is.

    But I love the idea of a New Adult genre. The reason I started reading Fantasy in the first place was that all the contemporary novels were about divorce and children and things I have no experience in yet.

    • Rainy

      I see this type of answer a lot when talking about NA, which means we’re all on the same page–yay! Fiction books *tend* to go from high school to divorce, and not a lot of in between. Well, there is some, but it’s mixed with others and not set apart. Hopefully this will continue to evolve.

  • Jennifer Comeaux

    As the author of a New Adult novel (and currently working on another one!), thank you for promoting this genre! I would love to see readers embrace these stories. There are so many wonderful possibilities for characters in this genre!

    • Rainy

      Yay! More New Adult! I really hope this becomes recognized sooner than later. Don’t forget to fill out interview(s) here to help spread the word about your work (and the genre) 🙂

  • Mary Anique

    I’m 21 and this is something that I totally agree with/relate to. Though I greedily devour YA novels, I’ve been trying to find more New Adult books and have been lamenting the lack of “official” genre for a few years. I actually just read Tammara Webber’s “Easy” and know now that should we be gifted such a genre, I’d already be addicted. There’s definitely money to be made in NA, and I can vouch for the fact that if a book is good enough, the textbooks can wait. Basically, THANK YOU for bringing this debate to attention – we can only hope that publishers wake up and take the risk.

  • BR Kingsolver

    “One thing that does put me off a little with NA is the assumption that it must be based in the real world. But just like teens go through certain stages in their life, so do twenty-somethings. And that can happen in any world, if it’s written properly.”
    I completely agree. I didn’t set out to write a New Adult urban fantasy, but the age of my protagonist is necessary to the story. I don’t see NA as necessarily aimed at a particular age group, but publishers seem to think so, and that there’s no market in that demographic. So I need to either change my character and make her 16, or change the story and make her 30 and divorced. Using that logic, Catcher in the Rye would have never been published.