With the popularity of books like Harry Potter and Twilight peaking over the last decade or so, the genre of Young Adult (YA) has been in forefront of media attention. This genre stars characters who are the same age as their target audience of mid-teens to late-teens. But what about those readers who are slightly older than this? For those who have aged out of the Young Adult genre, there is a lesser known genre called New Adult (NA).
The New Adult genre is geared towards readers who are within the age range of 18/19 to around 30. This is the genre for college students and post-college individuals who are still trying to figure out “How to Adult.” This is something that, as a 23-year-old, I can really get behind.
These books typically focus on characters in this age range who are struggling with the same things that their target audience may be struggling with. These are topics like identity, sexuality, and career choices. However, this doesn’t mean that all literature in the NA genre is realistic fiction or romance (though these genres are popular for this age bracket).
Additionally, one of the things that distinguishes the New Adult genre from the Young Adult genre is that it is considered acceptable to use profanity and have more explicit sexual references.
Some examples of this genre are Slammed by Colleen Hoover, Easy by Tammara Webber, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire—just to name a few.
If you would like to turn to the realm of film for examples, many popular films technically fall into the NA genre based on the age of their protagonists. A well-known example would be the Star Wars series. Luke and Leia are ages 19-23 throughout Episodes IV-VI, Rey from Episode VII is 19, and Anakin from Episodes II and III is 20-23.
At first glance, despite the ages, Star Wars may not seem like it fits in to the New Adult genre, but it does deal with the same struggles that are present in NA fiction. Both Luke and Anakin deal with their burgeoning sexuality, there are many moments where these characters question their identity, and they even must decide on a career path (whether to be a Sith or a Jedi).
This example should show that, whereas the NA genre may be aimed at readers in their twenties, all age groups read this genre. An author shouldn’t be afraid to write their protagonists this age. If adults will read Harry Potter, a story about a young teen, why would they suddenly be turned away by a story about a character who has just entered adulthood? And, if you are worried about attracting younger readers, I can assure you that many readers in the YA bracket read up a level or two and can handle swear words as well as 20-year-olds.
The only thing that YA has going for it as a genre that NA doesn’t is that it is more established in the public’s mind. Many consider NA to be a still emerging genre. So, if you write a book that is New Adult you can be a part of helping it to grow.
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Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.