Columns > Published on July 3rd, 2014

Confessions of a New Adult Addict

It’s no secret that I love Young Adult novels. I mean, reading about the firsts in life just gives me that little thrill and brings me right back to my own high school days where everything was absolutely of the utmost importance and the big, scary world was just starting to make sense. I’ll always love reading Young Adult, but as I get farther away from my own young adult days I find myself wanting stories that depict what happens after those turbulent times. I want to see what happens after high school graduation, when things can get really complicated. Luckily the publishing world finally caught on that there’s more to life between young adult and just plain adult, and my prayers were answered. Enter the category of New Adult.

For the longest time there was very little in the way of material depicting the college years and the crazy time when characters are trying to become the adults they want to be. It was like the no man’s land of publishing where the characters were too old for Young Adult, but not quite mature enough for adult books. Lucky for me, New Adult bridges that gap and has taken off in a big way. Readers want these stories and authors are writing them. So why am I so enamored with this fledgling category? Sit back and relax while I share the reasons why I just can’t get enough of New Adult.

In Young Adult, sex is treated with kid gloves, and rightfully so, but in New Adult all bets are off. Heck yeah, there’s some action!

Consequences, Consequences, Consequences

In New Adult, the stakes for the protagonist are just a little bit higher. Sure, in Young Adult a character might fail a class that prevents them from getting into college, but in New Adult the characters are already in college and the impact of failing plays out in a much bigger way. In New Adult the characters are also out on their own, living without the comforts of their parents. The drama is tenfold when you’re forced to fend for yourself, whether that’s living in a crowded dorm or struggling to survive in your first apartment. I love how New Adult captures the immediacy of youth, yet reminds us that as adults there are consequences for our actions.

The Sexytimes

Yeah, you heard me, the sexytimes! In Young Adult, sex is treated with kid gloves, and rightfully so, but in New Adult all bets are off. Heck yeah, there’s some action! Since the characters are older and there’s much less in the way of parental supervision, authors are free to explore a character’s sexuality and all of the drama that comes along with that. What I love about sexytimes in New Adult is that they’re generally not quite as movie-perfect and orchestrated as sex in adult romance novels. There’s less in the way of seamless moments and tawdry bodice ripping (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). It’s just that we’re dealing with twenty-somethings here, and the sex is messy and awkward, just like real life. Just like I love to read about a first kiss in Young Adult, I get the same thrill reading about first sex in New Adult. Thinking about sexytimes leads me to my next point…

It’s Not As Skeevy for Me to Crush on the Love Interest

As much as I hate to admit it, there’s getting to be a fair amount of distance between me and my high school days, so no matter how much I adore a Young Adult love interest, there’s a certain creepiness factor that gets in the way. In New Adult, the love interests are legal, and thus fair game for my crushing.

New Authors and Undiscovered Gems

This is perhaps my favorite part of reading New Adult: discovering new authors and previously undiscovered gems. Because New Adult is still relatively new and there’s not a lot in the way of traditional representation yet, there’s a wealth of fresh new faces writing great books. Sure, there are some really great traditionally published New Adult titles out there, but there’s also a ton of really great self-published work just waiting to be discovered. I recently found a new favorite when I came across Brooklyn Skye’s wonderful novel Stripped. It’s a self-published gem that has all of the things I love in New Adult, and because it doesn’t get the publicity of being published traditionally, I’m more than happy to shout it from the rooftops that it’s a wonderful read.

So if you’re ready to up the ante from reading Young Adult and bridge the gap to adulthood, step up and get acquainted with New Adult. Just like I did, you’re sure to fall in love with higher stakes, more sexytimes, and undiscovered authors. Oh, and feel free to lust after all the leading men you want; they’re legal.

About the author

Riki has a long-standing love affair with all things books and writing. She indulged her love for all things literary with a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University and is currently studying at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Although she is well past her own teen years, Riki’s reading passion lies with Young Adult literature where she devours books that handle the “firsts” in life. When not reading and writing she can be found yelling at the television while watching sports.

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