Battling Life: YA vs. NA Literature

Utopia book marketing, Craft

let's talk about sexLet’s talk categories. We here at utopYA are big fans of the Young Adult and New Adult categories of literature. Okay, maybe ‘big’ isn’t a fab enough word. Ginormous? Huge? Massive? Well, you get the idea. It’s kind of our thing, if you will.

As you may know, the Young Adult category is hotter than a dripping wet Channing Tatum wearing nothing but a damp towel, a very small towel. Another category gaining equal amounts of the hotness factor, is New Adult. The background on this category is muddied at best. Some would say it’s a must-have sub group while others will say it’s just a marketing trick.

Young Adult books have been around long before the dawn of Hot Pockets, but have only been recognized as an actual category in the last couple of decades. Oliver Twist, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, The Outsiders; all of these classics are just a taste of the multitude of Young Adult books out there before there was a category for it. They all portrayed our protag as a young person in various places in their life learning important lessons of how to simply BE.

What about New Adult? The haters out there will call this category another way to sell books written for younger readers. Others will say New Adult is just an excuse, a ploy, for teen writers to include more explicit sex to satisfy the not-quite-a-teen-anymore reader. But then others will call New Adult the ‘Generation X’ of literary works. It’s the black sheep. The in-between stage of life. Our protag has crossed the threshold of puberty, they have come of age, and they may have even been through some crazy epic life changing event. So what’s next for them?

The answer is: Life.

Little Women and Pride and Prejudice are two classic examples of what we would now probably classify as New Adult. Our protags aren’t swoony teens battling with insecurities or caught in the chaotic storm of coming into oneself. They are battling life. Can they truly be classified as Adult fiction? Are our characters in their peak of life armed with years of knowledge and experience to guide them? Should our beloved characters be labeled as ‘adult’ when technically they aren’t quite an adult?

What are your thoughts? For eons Young Adult literature existed before being dubbed a category. Can the same be said for New Adult? Could it have existed for eons as well and we are just now giving it the category credit it’s due?

UtopYA Con will soon be announcing panels for June. Would you like to see a panel on the Young Adult/New Adult debate? What questions or concerns would you like to see discussed? Feel free to pull out your soap box and share below!

D.B. Graves is a young adult writer living amidst the rolling hills 
of Middle Tennessee with her husband and young son.