Thursday, 27 June 2013

Discussion Post: New Adult - Love It or Hate It?

There's no denying that New Adult - the genre designed to bridge the gap between YA and adult fiction - has been a recent hot topic and a bit of a publishing phenomenon, much like adult erotica was this time last year. Whether you like it or despise it, it seems like it's here to stay, and I don't think I'm alone when I say I'm very glad about that. I love New Adult, and I'm not ashamed to admit it!

I've been reading quite a lot of NA books recently, mostly on my Kindle that I've bought myself or requested for review from Netgalley. I've read some I've really liked and some I've thought very little of, as is the way with any genre/age range of books. The writing has been of a high standard so far, even though I didn't expect it to be in some cases, considering a good handful of the titles started out as self-published works that quickly garnered a large audience and were picked up for big publishing deals. I've been pleasantly surprised, as I know a lot of other readers have been too.

I'm twenty-six years old and predominantly read YA and children's fiction with a sporadic splash of adult. I love children's and teen fiction, it will always be my favourite, but sometimes I just feel the need to read about older people, older characters in their early-mid twenties who are living a more relatable life and making more realistic choices closer to my own.

I personally find a lot of adult fiction boring and too difficult for me to relate to, but NA is exactly what I want at this moment in time, a time when I'm kind of in limbo - mid-twenties (yes, I'm not giving that little label up anytime soon), employed, with no husband, kids or mortgage. I've found that most female characters in NA books are in a similar position to me, though a lot are also at university/college which is again something I've never experienced. I can quite happily go along with that, though, as I know a lot of real-life people who went down that route and it's not an alien concept to me. Now, talk to me about getting married and having children and I'm guaranteed to run a mile!

From reading these NA titles I've been devouring recently, I've noticed that they tend to be quite similar. There almost always seems to be an absent parent, a bad home life and one or both of the main protagonist's virginity still in tact. I'll admit it can get repetitive when I read two similar stories close together, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy them. I appreciate that NA is more realistic than YA as a whole - there's a distinct lack of supernatural and paranormal elements - and instead what you get are real people doing normal everyday things. There's still lots of drama, of course, otherwise it would be all about ironing and studying, and even I don't want to read about mundane stuff like that.

One thing I've noticed that NA has more of, a lot more, is sexually explicit content. Some has more than others, and honestly it doesn't really add anything to the story. Some of it is so cringeworthy to read too, because come on, we all have imaginations and don't have to read about every single second of sex. We know what goes on, so why so much detail? The sexual content wouldn't even rank on my list of reasons why I like NA and, quite frankly, I could happily do without it. My favourite NA titles are the ones with less exploits content, which is one reason why I'm not a fan of the majority of Abbi Glines' work. I read Fallen Too Far and didn't enjoy it at all - it was just *too* much. I don't mean to single Abbi's books out as I thoroughly enjoyed The Vincent Boys and The Vincent Brothers, but it's the best example I could think of where there's way too much descriptive sex. It's not my thing at all which is why I avoid adult erotica at all costs!

Of the NA books I've read so far, I have two clear winners that I've been recommending to everyone who will listen: Easy by Tammara Webber and Losing It by Cora Carmack. I adore both of them and think they're shining examples of how good this genre can be. I've also read and liked Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess, True by Erin McCarthy and the aforementioned Abbi Glines series. I have a whole folder on my Kindle dedicated to NA I've bought, along with several Netgalley review copies, and I can't wait to get stuck in.

So, what I want to know is: do you like NA? Do you agree with its existence? Do you despise it so much you won't even think of picking up one of the books? I fall firmly into the 'I love it' camp, though I'm sure there are loads of readers out there who will (very politely) disagree with me. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments and, if you have any NA recommendations or indeed would just like to discourage me from reading certain titles, please leave those thoughts too. I'm interested to know what other bloggers, readers and even publishers think because, whether you love it or hate it, NA has made an impression on the reading world!


Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

At first I was all for NA, although in reality hasn't NA been around for years albeit without the NA tag, but, anyway...I read Easy last year and pretty much liked that one, along with Losing It and Taking Chances by Molly McAdams, but then everybody seemed to jump on the NA bandwagon and I read a bunch of books that were all very samey - a lot of which were not really well written at all.

I actually haven't picked up an NA book in ages now (apart from Brooklyn Girls, which was a lot of fun!) but I haven't abandoned it completely - there are a few upcoming titles such as the new Lisa Desrochers that I want to check out.

caroline.taylor078 said...

Great post and I mainly agree with you. I have read about 5 NA books and have really liked all of them (my fave was Wait For You by J.Lynn) but the similarity in characters and storylines is a bit annoying so I would like to read one without the same pattern in it. Easy and The Vincent Boys are definitely 2 I must read, can't believe I haven't yet considering the great review they get.
Oh and I am 34 years old and still the concept of reading about marriage and children is as alien to me as it is to you. said...

I like NA sometimes, but totally agree about the repetitive plots. The things is, it's okay for a book to be about a mid-twenties girl discovering and exploring sexuality ... but it's like EVERY NA book I've read so far is about that. You know what else your mid-twenties is about? Jobs, housing, breakups ... LIFE. I read "Someday, Someday, Maybe" recently. It was really good, because it was about finding satisfaction in a job, going home thinking, "Wow, I really suck at this" and being unsure of whether or not you should stick with it. I found it so much easier to relate to that than a girl who meets a model-hot dude who doesn't know why but he's instantly and irrevocably in love with her on sight.

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I haven't read that much NA yet (about five books?), but I've hated the majjority of it and I think I'm going to give up trying!

I've been unimpressed by the writing, the gratuitous sex, tendency towards sexism and just, ugh. It's really not for me!

Ellie Warren said...

I agree with starlightbookreviews; I like the idea of reading about life experiences in time of life but I don't want it to be all about sexual discovery. I read enough about that when I was a teen. I don't really choose my books by genre/category though. If something sounds interesting I'll read it whatever it's being marketed as and there have been a few NA that I do like the sound of and I'm sure I've read some NA that's just not called NA. But a lot of the stuff coming out at the mo just doesn't appeal to me.

Cat @ Beyond Books said...

What bugs me about NA is that everyone seems to be acting like it's a new thing and that there have never been books about characters in their early 20s before. It's not true. On one hand I sort of like how this NA label sort of showcases books in the regular adult sections that you might not have been able to find on your own, but on the other hand, I feel like it's just an excuse to write "porn for teens" because of the explosion of this after all that 50 shades of gray business.

What really annoys me are the NA tags on FANTASY books. The majority of fantasy novels tend to have teen - to - early 20s protagonists anyhow. That's one of the main things about fantasy novels. You don't need to re-categorize them with a New Adult label! Argh!

I guess I'm just a cranky old lady and don't like new things, but it could just be that I am old enough to have discovered on my own that there are adult books in all genres that have younger protagonists and they don't need to be singled out really. I don't care for contemporary novels at any level, so maybe that's why I don't see a need for the distinction because fantasy, adventure and mysteries tend to interest me no matter the level?

Becky Scott said...

Great discussion. I love the idea of new adult. I'm 30 now! eek!!!! And in my twenties I wished there were more obvious books for that age group. I have read Easy and really enjoyed it. I haven't read much else. I'd like to see a bit more variety coming through. Surely there is more to young women than university and getting it on with a guy? Don't get me wrong, I'm a hopeless romantic, but I still think young women have dreams, goals and so much potential. So it would be nice if books reflected this.

I'd also like some NA fantasy. Something to bridge between YA and then those great 500+ page adult fantasy novels. (Though I do love those). For readers who have read Graceling and Maria Snyder but just a little older.