I’m naïve: It’s got to be the only explanation why I seriously believed the New Adult label was just for Young Adult or YA books that were aged a few years. You know, instead of an angst-ridden teen with no parental figures trying to make it in life, to a character in their early 20s. I really understand why a young woman wouldn’t be enamored with falling in love with fiction in the same vein as her mom or forbid, grandmother, so why not give it a different label, like, oh, I don’t know, maybe New Adult. After all, it’s all new to the millennials: new education, new job, new relationships, well, you get the picture, and romance doesn’t really cut it…so New Adult would work. Right?
Next, let’s figure out what they like. Hmm, based on the popularity of Twilight, they would be okay with a helpless heroine in need of rescue. But they watch Girls, filled with whiney and aimless for the most part 20-year-olds searching for something in Brooklyn. So maybe dust off the chic-lit tales of a few years back and spruce them up. City setting, no suburbs for us = check. First job and foray in business = check. New relationships = check. Looking for love….
But wait, our moms love Bridget Jones, and it’s a new century, let’s go with more sex! We’re liberated, and Fifty Shades of Grey showed it’s okay to explore sex and bondage and well, everything. So, that’s what we want: Young Adult aged up with characters in their 20s and lots of sex. But not committed sex: first sexual encounters and hook-ups and rotten bosses and sex with bad boys and…well, all of it. And, not to confuse anyone, let’s stock it in the Young Adult section of the bookstores.
As you can tell from the rant, I’m not a fan of New Adult, but for some of our readers it’s the next NEW and BEST thing to read. So it’s time for a little exploration. After all, I’m up for a challenge in my reading. Our reviewers are raving about a couple of the books that are slapped with the label New Adult.
First up is a duo of books from Jamie McGuire. From self-published roots, McGuire was picked up by Atria who brought out the Disaster novels, one from each character’s point of view. Beautiful Disaster (Atria, August 2012) introduces us to Abby the good girl and Travis the bad boy. It’s a compulsive read with “a presence which makes them jump off the page.” Beautiful Disaster details a relationship every mother warns her daughter to avoid and every daughter wants almost desperately to experience. Although our reviewer wasn’t a fan of the behavior, she was a fan of the book, and highly recommends to readers. Following Beautiful Disaster is April’s release of Walking Disaster (Atria) which tells the events from Travis’ point of view. An “enthralling look into the mind of one of the most enigmatic characters,” Walking Disaster follows the action from a bad boy’s thoughts and helps to set up for the continuation of the disaster series with stories to follow about Thomas and Trent. For anyone wanting an introduction to a new subgenre we recommend picking up the Disaster novels and diving in.
Also out in April, J. Lynn’s Wait for You is another college-set novel with terrible secrets, a “good” girl and a bad boy falling into lust or love. After the horrific events at a Halloween party, Avery Morgansten travels thousands of miles to escape and become a new person. She’s 19 and in college, and she hopes it will be the start of a new period in her life. But she’s tempted by Cameron Hamiltonm, who makes her think it’s possible to overcome the past, only to be brought up short by someone who thinks differently. It’s filled with angst and lust but also brings a depth of mystery.
It was bound to happen, but the New Adult is starting to expand with elements found not just in contemporary fiction, but also a bit of the paranormal, maybe magic and, well…levitation? In an e-book only release, Levitating Las Vegas by Jennifer Echols (Simon & Schuster, May 2013), Holly Starr is a 21-year-old Vegas show girl who’s ready to leave but needs to wait until she can learn the secrets harbored by her famous magician father. But fate and time run out. Holly discovers her dreams could be “real” and her best friend, Elijah, kidnaps her. Together they explore their intense attraction to each other and uncover secrets which lead them to seek revenge back in Vegas. A compulsive read, Levitating Las Vegas manages to handily mix the New Adult trademarks with the paranormal fun which has been popular for the last decade.
So, dear reader, what do you think? Is New Adult here to stay? Is it just a new label for same old romance?
Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual readers conference, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.