What is New Adult?
So we have Young Adult and Adult but nothing in the middle for the young adults in transition to adulthood, 18-25. And that my friends is where New Adult comes in.
Where did New Adult come from?
"New Adult" first appeared on the scene in 2009 when St. Martin's Press launched a contest for novels that would appeal to new adult readers. The newly coined genre quickly gained excitement in the early 2010s, although from what I can tell, there hasn't been much recently written about it. My research for this blog came mostly from articles written in 2013-2014. Also, the then popular site for all NA, NA Alley, is gone.
New Adult also is said to have come from self-published authors who were wanting more niche books and decided to take matters into their own hands. Then, publishers started to notice and published some of them.
Brian Kelms wrote for Writer's Digest in 2013, saying:
In fact, independent e-book publishing has been the driving force behind the genre’s rapid growth. Online venues have allowed writers with New Adult novels that were being shut out of the market to create their own place.
In November 2012, newcomer Cora Carmack signed a six-figure, three-book deal with HarperCollins based on the chart-topping success of her self-published New Adult e-book, Losing It. The deal landed the New Adult genre its first headline in The New York Times. As reader demand for more books in the genre has become clear, big publishers have since snatched up other indie New Adult authors, such as Jamie McGuire and Colleen Hoover, both of whom had also cracked the bestseller list on their own.
So what's the difference between YA, NA, and Adult?
As an genre-encompassing category, New Adult typically tackles themes that adult books have moved past mentioning such as getting your first house or car and moves beyond themes that Young Adult covers. Instead, it might tackle with how new adults transition into college, how they keep or lose friends from high school, how to make friends at work, and getting truly serious with a significant other.
While there are plenty of adult books that focus on young protagonists (Ready Player One is one that comes to mind), New Adult differs from YA and Adult in its tone and style. It tends to read at a level higher than YA while being more explicit in some themes like sexuality than YA might typically address although not being as intense as Adult.
Welcome to the Clashing Views
Since...coming into age...New Adult has frequently been dealt a heavy dose of criticism. Some argue that its an unnecessary category and since new adults are well...adults...there shouldn't be a separate category for them.
But as stated above, adult books typically fail to focus on issues that new adults, typically college aged students and briefly beyond, struggle with. And YA, although it is heavily read by those older than 18 and can be written for an older audience (also typically tackling themes like sexuality, drugs, abuse, and other controversial topics in a way that's more real than what some adult books might suggest), doesn't usually focus on these issues either.
Part of its PR problem is that when "New Adult" books were first appearing on the market, many of these books focused on "YA-themes but with more explicit sex". This gave it a bad rap to begin with although with time, there has been new barrier breaking NA authors venturing into the realms of Fantasy and Sci-fi and other genres.
Since its inception, many NA authors have struggled to get their genre recognized and there is rarely any specific shelves devoted to it specifically. I might have seen myself a display at B&N for NA books, but once they're off the display stand, they get shoved either in the YA section or the Adult section.
Where can I find these books or who should I look for?
According to Goodreads.com, some popular NA titles include, "The Magicians by Lev Grossman, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell."
Wikipedia cites these titles and authors as NA, "Jennifer L. Armentrout's Wait For You, Jamie McGuire's Beautiful Disaster, Colleen Hoover's Slammed, Cora Carmack's Losing It, and Kendall Ryan's The Impact of You."