Hi all! I know, I know, you’re probably tired of hearing from me today, but I do try to do two discussion posts a month if I can and since it’s the last day of May, it’s my last chance to get a discussion in for this month! This week’s topic was inspired by everything that has been going on in the Twittersphere recently about the importance of teen bloggers and the lack of them in a community that is about books that are first and foremost for them. I totally agree that it is very important that we respect teen bloggers voices in the YA community and that it is a shame that teens actually make up a smaller proportion of the YA community than adults, but the issue I want to explore today isn’t about the place of teens in the YA community (an issue I’ve already talked about in a discussion post earlier in the year), I actually want to talk about New Adults and the lack of non-romance focused books in the genre.
First off, though I’m sure most people reading this already know, I figure I should define what a “New Adult” is. New Adult is defined as fiction for people aged 18-30, so those at the upper end of YA and younger adults. This age category explores many of the same issues as YA but also how you deal with adulthood. A poll done on Twitter about the ages of bloggers revealed that actually most of the the bloggers in the YA community, fit into this age category of New Adult. So how come these bloggers (myself included), find YA more appealing?
Well for starters New Adult is still a relatively new age category of fiction I feel? There’s not really a place for it in bookstores, I mean at least not in the UK, so New Adult fiction tends to either be shelved with the Young Adult books, or the Adult books. I mean it’s quite an accurate way of describing what it’s like to be one of the ages that is encompassed in this category, if you’re over 20 then you’re not a teen anymore but at the same time, you may not find adult fiction particularly appealing either or just not feel like you fit with adult fiction bloggers. I still feel much closer in age to teen bloggers than I do to most adult bloggers. It’s a very weird space to be in, because you don’t necessarily fit with either one, there’s no real space specifically for us, so we have to choose where we think we fit better.
I also think, perhaps because NA is such a new thing, that there isn’t really enough variety available. The great thing about YA and even adult books, is that there is something for everyone. There’s such diversity in genres, you can pick whatever it is you want to read and there will be something for you. With NA (I will admit that I don’t have much experience with it, this is just what I’ve gleaned from the NA books I know about), it seems like it is over-saturated with romance and that there is very little else on offer. And that sucks. Because not all 18-30 year old readers want that. Some might, and that’s great for them, but not all of us do. I’m not interested in reading a NA book that’s purely about sex, with a hot, shirtless guy on the cover. I’d like to read books that explore the issues that I have faced as a 20 something, heading off to University for the first time, having to maintain long distance relationships with your friends from school that don’t go to the same University as you do, making new friends, exploring independence from your parents for the first time etc. Being a New Adult isn’t just all about the sex! Yes relationships are a part of your late teens, 20’s & 30’s but they’re not the be all and end all, at this point in my life, my relationships with my friends are so much more important to me. There’s so much more to life as an NA than just romance and I’d like to see this reflected in NA books.
I’d also love to see more NA books that aren’t contemporary. I hardly ever hear of any NA fantasy, and aside from Sarah J Maas’ ACOTAR books, which are marketed as YA, even though they’re really NA, I’ve never read any. Fantasy is my favourite genre and I’d love to see more fantasy heroes and heroines of my age. One of the reasons I loved VE Schwab’s Shades of Magic books, is because the main characters are all in their late teens or early twenties, because I hardly ever read fantasy books with older main characters (given that most of the fantasy I read is YA). Still those books aren’t NA, they’re Adult. It would be great to see more NA fantasy, to bridge the gap between YA and Adult fantasy. It’s not just fantasy though, most of the NA you hear about seems to be exclusively contemporary. What about those that like Sci-Fi? Or Crime? Or retellings? Or thrillers? Or horror? It just seems like as a category, NA is still rather narrow.
The fact that there is no specific shelf space for New Adult books, means that a lot of them are published as e-books, which puts up roadblocks for those of us who don’t necessarily like reading in that format.
It also seems to me like it’s pretty difficult to find NA books without sex, which puts me off slightly, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. “Well just read YA books then, they don’t have sex” you say, and that’s true, but I don’t want to stop reading YA books, I would just like to broaden my reading by reading about characters that are in the same stage as life as me, but that’s pretty difficult to do when it seems like most of the books that feature these characters involve something that I don’t particularly love reading about. I’m sure it’s appealing to some people, but what about those who perhaps want to move on from YA (not me but others) but don’t necessarily want a book with a lot of sexual or romantic content?
New Adult is definitely still a growing category of fiction, and I think it has a long way to go before it has the same level of appeal in the online community as YA does. There’s definitely a slot for it to fill, life doesn’t stop after sixth form/high school and NA reflects this, but in order to gain wider recognition and popularity, I think there needs to be more of a variety of books available, to reflect the different experiences and preferences of 18-30 year old readers. We need to show publishers that we want these kinds of stories, that we want a space that reflects us in literature, that we want NA stories in diverse genres, stories that reflect all aspects of the experience of emerging into adulthood. If we show publishers that we would buy these stories, then more of them would be published and then finally, like adults and young adults, us twenty somethings would no longer be in limbo, we could finally have our own space, and books that are specifically written for us.
What do you think? Do you think there needs to be more variety in New Adult? Is there a kind of limbo between YA and Adult? What would you like to see more of in New Adult books? And do you have any NA Fantasy recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!
I will have my first Jo Talks post of June up at some point, I’m hoping that it will be before I go to Greece on 12th June, but we’ll see! I haven’t decided what the topic will be yet, so I can’t tell you, but if there’s anything that you’d particularly like to see me talk about, then please let me know! In the meantime, I have plans for another review that I’m hoping will be up tonight (and I promise that’s the last you’ll hear from me today!), and I will have my latest #RockMyTBR update for you tomorrow, so stay tuned for those!