We’ve all heard of the Young Adult genre, most recently made popular by books such as Twilight and the Hunger Games. Those books were a bit too adult to be considered children’s books, and yet they were also not crafted with adult readers in mind. Therefore they fell into this strange in-between that has become known to all as Young Adult fiction.
This genre has EXPLODED in the last few years, and now it seems YA books are a dime a dozen in both bookstores and online. Booksellers are having to accommodate this new genre by giving it its own classification, versus labeling these books as simply “Children’s Books.” Because really, if you’re talking about a book with violent and heavy topics such as the Hunger Games, or the hormone-confused love story of Twilight, children are not your target audience. Teenagers are, and teens are the ones who gobble these books down like candy on Halloween night.
I think it’s FANTASTIC that this new genre, Young Adult, has given teens a reason to love reading again. When I was a teenager I read Harry Potter, and a lot of my fellow students considered that to be nerdy (hah!). And maybe a story about a boy wizard attending a wizarding school and fighting an evil Dark Lord with no nose is a bit nerdy, but when books with more appeal to boy-crazy girls came about, a lot more kids started reading. While you can argue that Twilight is not a literary masterpiece, it’s still ridiculously popular and it brought the love of reading back to an entire generation of television-obsessed, reality-tv loving drones. It made reading fun and enjoyable again, especially for teens who would only otherwise be reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for their English assignment (I love Mark Twain and mean no disrespect 😉 ).
Now let’s fast forward a bit here, as it’s been seven years since Twilight was first published. A lot has happened to the book industry since then, and the tastes of readers have evolved as well. Books that wouldn’t have had a shot in the marketplace just ten years ago are now shooting to the top of the bestseller lists because the trend is changing. It’s going more toward romance, adventure, coming-of-age, and the paranormal. Twilight embodied all of these things, and to an extent so does the Hunger Games (minus the paranormal). This is what the readers demand, and there are LOTS of authors out there ready and willing with fantastic stories to tell. And yet, the readers who first fell in love with Twilight are now getting older. They are no longer teenagers hoping for someone to understand them as they struggle through the pains of adolescence. Instead, they are now in their late-teens and early twenties, in college, dealing with a whole HOST of other issues. So what can we offer them, as authors, to sate their appetite while they still await the final transformation into adulthood?
Why, we give them NEW Adult.
I recently heard about this blossoming genre when I discovered a book (Losing It by Cora Carmack) that was being categorized on a blog I read as NA. What I learned was that there was now a new slot in the reading market that desperately needed to be fulfilled. It was a group of readers who were tired of reading about teenagers, and yet weren’t quite ready to embrace the fiction most older adults enjoy. This group wanted romance, but steamier and sexier, they wanted paranormal, but not cheesy. They wanted college aged main characters, not teens. And they greatly desired to read about the issues THEY were facing in our modern day world. Issues like living on your own for the first time, getting a job, going to college, struggling to pay the bills, going to night clubs, experiencing serious relationships with men, not boys, etc. This group is hungry for good fiction they can relate to and enjoy, and we as authors have a duty to satisfy their hunger.
I’ve found that I tend to write characters that are between the ages of 18-28 (which, duh, I’m 25 so that just makes sense!). And while my most recent novel, When Empires Fall, is still better suited as an adult genre novel, my debut fantasy series could definitely qualify as New Adult. The characters are all between the ages of 18 and 23; they drink, they deal with work, with real relationships…they deal with the idea that they now have to be adults, and yet they don’t quite know HOW to be adults yet. It’s a scary time, one that with the circumstances we face now as a generation has only become tougher. Moving out of mom and dad’s house is harder than it has been in the past, we’re saddled with student loans, with car payments, cell phone payments, all of it. Our progression into adulthood has been prolonged, where we still feel young even as we approach thirty.
So because of this, a new genre has emerged that I predict will take the book industry by storm in the upcoming year. Fifty Shades of Grey, while being an erotica novel first and foremost, still featured a 22 year old heroine. While I haven’t read the book myself, it seems to me that by the reception the book has gotten that the character is relatable to the same group that New Adult would target. Therefore, the market is already set and ready to go, we just need to fulfill the demand.
It’s been these thoughts about New Adult that have prompted me to reconsider some aspects of a novel I’m planning for when I finish the sequel to When Empires Fall. I was originally going to cast characters in their late twenties, even early thirties, but now I may make them younger, one or two of them college students, even. I think it would be fun to enter this genre of New Adult and market to the group of people that I myself am a part of. When the industry evolves, we have to evolve with it.
So there you have it! Make way, YA, New Adult is heading into town and by my account has no intention of slowing down. There will be plenty of room for both genres, but I for one am happy to see that more and more people are taking up reading for enjoyment these days.
I may have been considered a nerd back in the day for loving to read, but now I’m just part of the crowd. 😉
“Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac…It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!” -Caddyshack