Let’s Talk About…New Adult Literature

So I’ve decided to start a new segment. Called “Let’s Talk About…” 

Let's Talk About

Its not going to be a weekly segment. We’ve learned pretty well that I’m TERRIBLE at keeping up with weekly segments, unhealthy although I’m ready to get back on board with blog writing. I really am.

That being said, welcome to the new segment. Basically this is a segment that I’ll write whenever I just feel like talking about something in the nerd world. It could be about cosplay. It could be about internet bullying. It could be about anything really.

The point of it is, I want to talk about it. I want to share my opinion and start a conversation on a subject that’s on my mind.

So the very first “Let’s Talk About…” is about the emergence of new adult literature and my opinion of it.

For those of you who may be unaware, new adult is a fairly recent term used to describe young adult literature thats for mature audiences. Think Jennifer L. Armentrout and Cora Carmack, as some famous ones.

When I first heard the term, I was skeptical of it, but I wasn’t too against it. The idea of a more mature young adult literature really appealed to me actually. I’m twenty-five years old, which means, technically, I’m not the intended age group of young adult literature.

Bear with me, I know that even though we are not the intended audience, adults are reading more and more YA literature. It just makes sense. That’s a whole ‘nother “Let’s Talk About….” so I won’t address that here. I just didn’t want you all jumping down my throats.

Moving on, the idea of a book that would be written in that sort of young adult style but be more mature really appealed to me. I honestly think what I write tends to more “new adult”. Now I always just assumed it was “mature young adult” because I didn’t know that there was an actual term for it. My characters tend to have more sex than characters do in YA, and I don’t cushion it, I give you the full scene. They deal with more adult issues, like going to college, growing up after high school, getting jobs and having adult relationships. That sort of thing. They don’t hold their language back. That was the kind of idea that I had about new adult literature.

Now, the more involved I get into middle grade, young adult and new adult literature with this blog, the more I’m disappointed at what new adult essentially is becoming, and I’m not pleased with it.

I took a screen shot of the “new adult” page on Net Galley. Net Galley, for those of you who don’t know, is a website where you can go (mostly as a blogger or reviewer) to request upcoming novels for review before their release-digital ARCs, basically. I went to the “new adult” page to sort of give you an idea of what it is.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 8.52.06 PM

What does it look like to you? Really take a look at it.

Yeah, it all looks like romance novels right?

Disclaimer before I begin: I have nothing against romance novels. I’m not a fan of them, but if that’s your cup of tea, the more power to you.

But the fact is: I didn’t think the whole point of “new adult” was just young adult with sex. Because that’s what it seems like. Most new adult books I’ve seen have racy covers, with half-clothed people. It seems less plot heavy, less character driven. It also seems there aren’t a lot of care taken in the new adult genre for actual good books and talented writers. It doesn’t seem to matter if its actually good, just thought its a bit more racy than actual good literature.

And that sort of thing really bothers me. Obviously I have no problem with sex in novels. I write sex into my novels. Sex is an important part about being an emerging adult. But I want more new adult about the idea of being…well a new adult.

Like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell for instance. I would consider it YA with a hint of NA. The only reason its not full NA is that you definitely could be younger and read it. But I enjoy the newness of the story. I enjoy reading about a girl in college, struggling on being away from home and navigating a new world. Its refreshing to get a different world from high school. We see Cath go from a teenager to an adult in college, and I love that kind of story.

So what I really think new adult should be is emerging adult stories. People from the ages of 18-25ish, coming into the world. Going to college, traveling, getting jobs, all the sort of stuff that I’m going through now, and have been going through since leaving high school. Throw some more serious themes in there, throw some sex in there, and maybe some foul language. That’s okay, that’s realistic. I want to see those kinds of stories in new adult. I could really get behind the idea of new adult, if that’s what it represented.

Instead, I find myself with a group of books that basically seem to YA with sex. A lot of sex. And a lot of it is definitely not well written. This is incredibly disappointing and really puts a bad name on those of who want to write quality new adult literature that has more to it than just sex.

I’m hoping in the future, that there will be more quality new adult literature and that hopefully there won’t be a negative connotation when you write new adult. A lot of NA authors tend to be self-published because most publishers don’t accept it. They have seen the same sort of things I’m seeing: books that aren’t really well-written, with a ton of sex. They really should be going in the romance section.

I have read good NA though. I think Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl could be considered NA. I’ve heard good things about Cora Carmack’s books, but I haven’t had a chance to dive into them yet. Tammara Webber’s Between the Lines  series and her standalone, Easy, are definitely NA and I absolutely love those books.

I think there could be really great stuff in the new adult genre but I must admit that, for the most part, I tend to avoid it. Its starting to sort of lump together, in a mess and its really hard to find the quality ones in the mess of pretty bad ones.

I have a lot of hope for the genre but until I really start seeing some good stuff, and on actual shelves, instead of all the self-published stuff, than I really think I”ll get into the ‘genre’. Until then, I am just disappointed that the potential of it is just not being utilized. Young adult has a hard enough time being taken seriously as real, quality literature and the emergence of new adult literature doesn’t seem to be helping because of the lack of quality in it. I hope this changes soon, and that publishers start printing really good, well written new adult lit soon.

What do you think? Share in the comments!

Remember, everyone is open to their opinion. You may not necessarily agree, and that’s okay. But we show respect, and we discuss things, we don’t argue, ridicule or treat people with disrespect because of differing opinions. Thank you!

3 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About…New Adult Literature”

  1. I actually read a LOT of new adult. Gotta say that while some are centered around romance, most -if not all – have deep underlying REAL issues. Never judge a book by it’s cover. What looks like a romance novel could be a book about a girl who was raped and overcame it. There are NA paranormal romance books popping up. There are many that blur the lines, like ‘Stir Me Up’ by Sabrina Elkins. I think to post a fair opinion of the genre, you really have to emerge yourself in it. I think you’ll find it’s much more than erotica and sexy love stories – though it certainly can be that too. ;) as far as self publishing goes, that’s the case for any genre these days. However, Carmack, Armentrout (aka J.Lynn), Colleen Hoover, and many more amazing NA authors can be found not only in bookstores but in major retailers like Target. Read those authors and then make an educated decision on your opinion of the genre. I hate seeing it take heat when it hasn’t been given a fair chance. Cora was the first NA I read, and now I can’t get enough. ‘Wait for you’ ‘hopeless’ ‘losing it’ all love stories with deep underlying issues. Good luck on your NA journey. You’ve only skimmed the top.

  2. Let me just start by saying that I am so excited that you decided to discuss the new adult genre because it’s the genre I’m writing for! I completely understand what you’re saying because I found myself in a similar situation. It’s been so difficult for me to find decent NA books that don’t focus so much on the sexual content and it’s becoming frustrating. I want to see more story and character driven NA books out there, especially ones with fantasy elements mixed into it because that’s how I want my book to be like. Hmm, now that I think about it though, I may just have to be a pioneer and be like Susan Ee: write the story that I want to read and can’t find out there.

    1. Honestly I am incredibly glad to find a kindred spirit in this. I’ve found a lot of people disagreeing with me, but I don’t think people really take the time to look at these kind of things. I really want to see books that focus on the issues for older young adults and less on just the acceptability of more sex in the novels. I mean, sure, add the sex. I do. But its more than that. New adult just seems like more romance novels, and I’m not fond of that

Share YOUR Nerd!