Many of us are already quite familiar with young adult fiction or more commonly referred to as YA. Even people who don’t read YA could list YA titles off the top of their head because so many of them have been turned into movies. Some of the most popular YA books include the Divergent, Twilight, and the Hunger Games series. And then there are YA titles such as The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars that were turned into TV series.
According to the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), YA books are those aimed at kids aged 12 to 18 years.
YA books are authentically teen, from the plot to the voice. The storylines are typically coming-of-age experiences that shape the main character. They’re often stories about pivotal moments in the protagonist’s life such as first love, first heartbreak, first sexual encounter, or first time to be alone on an adventure. They span different themes and worlds, covering romance, sexual discovery, and even paranormal activity. Some of the most successful YA novels have fantasy themes that involve mythical creatures like vampires, werewolves, mermaids, witches, and shapeshifters.
And while YA fiction is created for the 12-18 audience, many adults confess that YA novels are their guilty pleasure. With so many adults indulging in young adult novels, a new genre came into the scene – the New Adult (NA) novels.
New Adult emerged sometime in 2009 as a means to fill the gap between Young Adult and Adult Fiction. The target audience of New Adult fiction are people aged between 18 and 30 or that time in the lives of people when you are only just coming to terms with their new adulthood. The NA genre spoke to readers who identified with that age where people start to carry more responsibilities and are eager to find their place in the world. They’re struggling with love and career while on a journey to self-discovery.
NA fictions covers topics such as starting college, first jobs after graduation, financial independence, and first serious relationships. Some NA novels are more sexually descriptive because they are geared towards a more mature audience. However, NA is cautious not to cross the border into adult fiction or erotic novel territory.
NA fiction is gaining popularity for this reason but is also facing some criticism because of it. NA is not appropriate for a 12-year-old reader yet not graphic or serious enough for the adult reader who picks up the NA title hoping for adult storylines. Many agents and publishing houses are still struggling to see how to market NA which has placed itself between two already well-established genres (YA and Adult). However, as we see more NA authors choose to self-publish and go on to find success, more big publishers may begin to pay attention.
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