January 27, 2013

What Does New Adult Mean to You?

I have a question for all you readers out there (and authors too)...  What does the term "new adult" mean to you?

I classify my books as New Adult when the main characters are either college aged, or in their early 20's. The story may not necessarily appeal to the true YA audience because the characters are doing things they can't relate to yet (interning, working full time, living with their bf's, etc). It's about a period of time in our lives when we're not necessarily sure where we're headed. We're still figuring things out. It's that in-between stage between high school and true adulthood. We've all been there.  

Now my characters in In Dreams are in college, but I wrote that book in a younger voice, with no sex, very little swearing, etc. I classify it as YA because it reads as YA, even though the characters are no longer in high school. I felt like the situations the characters go through was appealing enough to a younger audience that they wouldn't feel like they couldn't relate.

I honestly think that if your main characters are in high school, then your book is Young Adult. At least that's what i've always just assumed as a reader. Young Adult = high school aged stories. No matter if they're having sex, swearing, doing drugs, etc-  high school kids have sex, swear, do drugs, etc. 

But i've seen some high school aged books being called New Adult. So i'm wondering, are we classifying that category based on subject matter of the book, the way the book is written, or the age of the characters?! 

I honestly don't know. 

I honestly am asking.

If we want the category to be taken seriously by publishing houses, readers and bookstores, then it needs to be consistent, does it not?

So I wonder- what does New Adult mean to you?  When you're a reader and you grab a New Adult book, are you assuming the characters are at least college aged, if not older?

Talk to me people.  :)

20 comments:

  1. I would say college ages or older, definitely more provocative and sexual...
    My 11 year older read a lot of YA moderated by me! I like to think those are kept high school aged and less explicit! :)

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  2. I figure:
    YA=PG
    NA=PG-13
    Contemporary=R
    Erotica=NC-17

    I could be totally wrong though.

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    1. Erotica is definitely NOT NC-17. Some of the books I've read lately are more like XXX. Some of the books I would classify as Young Adult is not PG-13.

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  3. I think the storyline is more mature in a NA. Older characters with adult situations. I think of YA as something that would be approprtate for a teen to read. Contemporary and NA seems very similar to me. Just my opinion.

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  4. I classify it as college age or early to mid 20's.

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  5. I see New Adult as a mixture of both content and where the characters are in life. While these days, high school kids shouldn't be shocked by cursing and sex in books, I think their parents do. I don't know, I prefer the "older" context and content personally, and more often than not seek out something that says New Adult over Young Adult.

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  6. Yes, if I'm starting a New Adult book I assume that the characters will be at least in college or in their 20's. And I also assume there will be sex. If I'm reading a book with high schoolers, and they are having sex, doing drugs, etc., I would assume it be called Mature Young Adult. I would say I could be wrong, but let's face it, that'd be silly. Because if I am wrong, then the rating system needs to change so that I am right. Ha! Otherwise it's way too confusing.

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  7. For me, New Adult has characters who are either just out of hs, entering college, or graduating college and contains content that is more explicit, provocative, and deals with issues college students, like myself, may face.

    Also, my local Books-A-Million is classifying Easy by Tammara Webber as Erotica! Need to have a chit chat with them soon. :)

    Hope this helps!

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    1. easy as erotica?!??!?!!!! good lord, you're joking?! That book to me IS exactly what New Adult is!

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    2. I know!! I'll take a picture and email it to you next time I'm there. I was completely floored.

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    3. That would be like saying "The Perfect Game" is in that category as well... which makes no sense to me because I don't go near that category. The covers alone are way worse.

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  8. To me, New Adult is like what Doodle said. The characters are just out of high school or in college or even just out of college. I once saw an age categorization as the 18-25 group. I think the characters are dealing with more adult situations, there isn't much (if any) of the angst we see in a lot of YA, and the descriptions are a little more graphic. I agree that NA deals with the years between being a kid and truly becoming an adult.

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  9. This is a good question! I think you and I spoke about this after I read Chance Encounters. I always classified it as college aged, but it seems to be widening now. Someone above said it correctly, to me...more explicit and provocative. I wouldn't want an under 15 year old to read it.

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  10. For me YA is for my friends 12 year old and for me, an immature adult. It's Twilight, Hunger Games,etc. No explicit sex, no f-word. I think its important for parents to have a category they can let their middle-school and freshman go to. New Adult for me includes more mature HS set books such as The Sea of Tranquilly, Brenna Blixen series, Pushing the Limits, etc. I'm torn because part of me feels NA should be for only characters over 18, but I can't recommended the above titles to said 12 year old, too many "fucks" for her mom's taste. So basically, I'm no help!

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  11. For me YA is for my friends 12 year old and for me, an immature adult. It's Twilight, Hunger Games,etc. No explicit sex, no f-word. I think its important for parents to have a category they can let their middle-school and freshman go to. New Adult for me includes more mature HS set books such as The Sea of Tranquilly, Brenna Blixen series, Pushing the Limits, etc. I'm torn because part of me feels NA should be for only characters over 18, but I can't recommended the above titles to said 12 year old, too many "fucks" for her mom's taste. So basically, I'm no help!

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  12. New Adult is my favorite genre because to me, it's a representation of a particular period in a "new adults" life - being early 20's, having a part time job, studying, falling in love for the first time, experimenting with sexuality, experiencing the devastation of losing a loved on at such an important phase of your life etc are all things I associate with this genre. I hate how critics try to censor it, saying that the language and sexual situations should be left for the older adults! I'm 21 and I feel like most of the books I've read in this category, The Perfect Game included, are all stories I can relate to! I wish more people would write books for this genre, it doesn't get the credit it deserves! And seriously, it's the 21st century - if books like Fifty Shades can do so well with its BDSM content then don't censor a new adult novel because of its 3 or 4 sex scenes!!

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  13. And NA = PG13??? Um no!!!! It should be more like PG18 depending on the amount of sexual content!!

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  14. It's a little contradictory for me, because I am a young adult in university, and yet I do not find myself drawn to "young adult" novels, because I always thought that they were fluffy stories that stayed away from the idea of sex or anything sexual related and language. Something too lovely-dovey that I would not be able to relate to or stomach when reading. But was my mind changed after reading "Game Changer". I enjoyed the storyline, and given the young adult theme attached to the book, it was the right amount of sex, and language and it was a relatable story.

    With that said, "young adult" for me deals with young adults, between the ages of 16 to 18. Young adult novels if applicable can have sexual scenes but nothing to the degree of erotica, because that is in a category of it's own. But I think that there are different degrees of young adult novels, considering Twilight was considered in this category, it does cause conflict and misunderstanding. That is why there should be a difference between young adult that deals with novels between the ages of 16 to 18, and young adult for over the ages of 18 dealing with more mature subjects and content and then the full out erotica. At that point can it be said that its' young adult NC17 while warning the reader that the subject matter might not be applicable to a certain reader?

    After all, a 16 year old should not be reading a Fifty Shades type of book, that is way too much, but at the same time, a love story where the reading knows whats going to happen next without the picture completely drawn for them might appropriate. Because if an author is writing a story about a young adult aged 23 just leaving college/university with an internship meets a guy falls and their strory-line continues will sexual content and language be limited? I think the author decides the type of novel and content inside the novel.

    Young adult is just that younger audiences that want a taste of the real adult novels but just aren't appropriate for them. As soon as language and sexual content [with any form of description] it looses the attachment of young adult and becomes NC-17 mature reader.

    That's my opinion ...

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  15. All this discussion of NA has many confused but consider TV. This genre has been around for a while. For instance look at 90210 (the old series and the newer remake). They started with high school, so YA. As the characters matured, the series turned NA. The YA portion dances around idea of sex but never gets into it in much detail. Brenda obesses about losing virginity but the actual sex is not shown aside from kissing and implied activity. In their college years however, sex is more evident.

    Easiest way to decode this: put yourself in the character's shoes. HS a confusing time. Some people are more ahead sexually than others. Accordingly, stories should reflect this. Sex is a pressure situation in HS but by college, people are having it and experimenting. NA should reflect this. Again, visualize the person in front of you and think about how you would tell them your story. After all, it's for them in the end.

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