What is New Adult Fiction
by Nadiyah Abdul-Khaliq
I first came across this term, “New Adult” fiction, in early 2013 while researching book bloggers (i.e. what they do, what their sites look like, how they become successful, etc). I had no idea what New Adult was, so I ignored it a few times. Kept seeing it pop up, so I consulted the all-mighty Google …that did nothing but confuse me. From what I was reading, I had no idea how it was different from adult (note: to me, anything that’s not YA is adult and vice versa). Again, I ignored it.
Reading articles on the subject, I came across a comment added much perspective to the conversation. It’s not a genre. It’s an age range (Wendig, 2013). Suddenly, everything made sense. Young Adult covers the age range of 12-18. Adult typically starts from that point. Which is a much, much wider age range. However, New Adult narrows that group down a bit more and covers the age range of 18-25 or 30 (Wetta, 2013). As you’d expect, the differences between the two turn out to be pretty significant both in character and themes.
Where YA often revolves around “high school themes of popularity and acceptance,” (Klems, 2013) NA focuses more on “survival and success” (Klems, 2013). Typically, these characters will be in college; if not, obviously of college age and dealing with more adult situations, including, but not limited to, sex, which is often avoided in YA novels.
That brings us to the next most obvious question: Do we even need NA fiction?
Jury’s kind of still out on that one. Katie J. M. Baker and Jami Gold both say the new genre (I will henceforth call age group) is merely a marketing tool used to get us “to buy things” (Baker, 2013) and because publishers are worried about the YA group “aging out” (Gold, 2013) of that age group. I don’t disagree with them, but I find the sentiments interesting for two reasons. One, a reader’s going to read, damn all else. Good marketing. Bad marketing. You put a book in front of a reader and at least one chapter will be read. We know that. Obviously, good marketing helps, but I’ve never been turned off of reading a book just because I hadn’t heard of it.
Two, as far as aging out, in 2012 a study was done and found that 55% of YA readers are, in fact, adults (Publisher’s Weekly, 2012). Therefore, if publishers are genuinely concerned that YA readers will stop reading once they hit adulthood, I’d say they can relax. I know that I’ve been reading YA and Adult since I was YA age. Nothing’s changed for me there. I’ve read the entire Artemis Fowl and Percy Jackson series which came out when I was in my mid-twenties (give or take).
Personally, I think it’s good to have the age group for two reasons. 1. It helps to shorten that very, very wide age range of just adult and 2. It helps to give readers, and writers, an idea of what they’re getting and writing. However, I’m interested to see what my peers think. Leave a comment below or take this short (1-2 questions) survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/89QD728
Nadiyah Abdul-Khaliq is a Highlighted Author for The Ram Boutique and a blog contributor for the RRP Blog. Stay tuned for more information on the relationship between River Ram Press and Nadiyah.
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