The New Adults
Have you read The Hunger Games trilogy? What about the Harry Potter series? The Fault in Our Stars? Most likely, you’ve read at least one of these books, even though they’re technically considered “young adult” fiction, or YA. There is a very large community of adult readers who prefer reading YA fiction, for a multitude of reasons. I’m not one of those people, even though I do read the occasional YA book, but I can certainly understand the appeal.
It’s no secret, following the wild success of YA franchises such as Twilight, that YA is a huge boon to the publishing industry. The books appeal not only to kids, but to adults as well, and often have tons of marketing potential for movie tie-ins and the like. So, I suppose it’s not surprising that there’s a new genre on the rise–“new adult” fiction.
Cora Carmack, author of a popular “new adult” title called Losing It, defines new adult fiction as books depicting people in the 18-25 year-old age bracket, figuring out how to transition from adolescence to adulthood. With the new economic landscape, more and more 20-somethings are living at home following college, unable to get a job or sustain a stable relationship. It’s this demographic that publishers are aiming to court with this new genre of books.
To me, this whole “new adult” thing sounds like exactly what it is–an effort by publishers to capitalize on the success of the YA market. It’s not a new type of story, by any means. Authors have been writing books about 20-somethings navigating the rocky terrain of early adulthood for centuries–why do these books suddenly need to be boxed into a category?
An article in New York Magazine last month went even further, deriding the new adult phenomenon as being the wrong thing to attract adult YA readers–in fact, they claim it’s the opposite of what these women want to read. Whereas much of YA fiction involves vampires, dystopian societies, and cookie cutter romances, the new adult genre aims to depict real life situations and relationships. New York counters that the audience reading YA lit is in seek of an escape–they aren’t looking for a novel about a character struggling with the same problems they may be facing in their lives.
New adult fiction also seeks to capitalize on another facet of today’s popular fiction–sex. You’ve doubtless heard of, or even read, the infamous 50 Shades of Gray series. Now imagine similar series geared toward a slightly younger audience, with younger characters and slightly less-risque situations (Losing It is about a 22-year-old college senior determined to lose her virginity by having a fling).
What do you think of the new publishing trend? Do these books sound like a good idea to you? Would you or have you read any of these books?