A couple of weeks ago, I read a post about how A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas is marketed as a young adult novel despite being new adult, so I have to give a shout out to Katie over at Too Old for YA because her post is what inspired this one.
But this post isn’t about ACOTAR. It’s about new adult literature. When I was first introduced to new adult lit, I thought it was simply another term for erotic fiction. In reality, new adult lit is the step between “young adult” literature and “adult” literature. It features a protagonist between the ages of 18 and 30, and more than likely, takes place in a college. Or you know, deals with college-aged people.
To be fair to my misconceptions, new adult literature usually has more sexual themes than young adult. It makes sense. When you’re a “young adult”, you’re falling in love for the first time, learning how to deal with conflict, and figuring out who you are. And yeah, you’re still doing that in your early adult years, just in a different way.
But for some reason, publishers don’t seem to think new adult lit is a marketable genre despite evidence pointing to its potential. Like NA, other genres have had difficulty breaking into the mainstream demographic. For a long time, children’s literature and young adult literature were both seen as “less than” general fiction aimed at an adult audience. It was seen as not being complex enough, not having complex themes, not being interesting enough. It didn’t really sell.
When Harry Potter was released, no one thought it would sell to adults. No one anticipated that it would be as successful as it was. Children’s literature was suddenly more profitable. The same misconception happened with young adult literature. Adults didn’t read young adult lit; therefore, no one thought it had any merit. It wasn’t marketable. But with The Hunger Games came more adult readers. Young adult literature was suddenly massively popular.
To me, this doesn’t necessarily suggest that children’s literature and young adult literature is appealing to everyone. To me, it suggests that there’s a demographic of people whose reading desires aren’t being met. That demographic isn’t children or teens. It’s us twenty-somethings.
The reason I continued reading young adult literature in college is because I wasn’t finding what I wanted in the general fiction genre. I couldn’t relate to a thirty-year-old mom or a fifty-year-old widow. And quite frankly, I didn’t want to read about them. I wanted to read about people my own age, but there just wasn’t much there. And if there was, it wasn’t necessarily good. So I went back to young adult literature because it was exciting and fresh.
New adult literature can be that too. But it can also have more complexity than a young adult novel. It can be darker, it can be sexual, and it can still have rich world building and character development. And it can be popular. You can see that with A Court of Thorns and Roses because in the end, it isn’t a book that really fits into the young adult genre. It was just stuck there because it was better for sales.
I don’t know about you, but this is something I want to see grow. And I think it will–just like young adult literature did before. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and even Twilight created a new generation of readers. But those readers aren’t teens any more, and they need something else to read. Isn’t it about time we start getting it?
And yeah, I know I’m being a little dramatic.
How would you define the new adult genre? Do you think it would do well? What would you want to see? Let me know your thoughts about new adult lit in the comments below! 🙂