By Angela Maria Hart
Young Adult, YA, literature primarily focuses on protagonists 13-18. New Adult, NA, literature primarily focuses on protagonists 19-24. (Some may argue that NA goes up to 30, but, considering I read quite a bit of this genre, I think it is capped off by age 25.) These categories pertain to character development and transitional periods in their lives.
Young Adult literature tends to focus on a very important time in a person’s life, while they mature emotionally. As teenagers become more aware, they learn about their surroundings and start to become the individuals they will be later on in life. As someone who loves character-driven stories more so than plot-driven narratives, I naturally gravitate towards this genre due to the emotional nature of the pieces.
Similarly, New Adult novels focus on individuals learning how to mature and become responsible for themselves. In Young Adult, teenagers tend to need their parents, living at home and so forth. In New Adult, the characters tend to be standing on their own two feet. In today’s society, there is a transitional period between high school and the rest of someone’s life. Today, a majority of people decide to pursue higher education and attend college. During these four years, people emotionally mature and learn more about themselves, the world around them, and how to be responsible.
Personally, I consider Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell to be the essence of a New Adult novel. The main character, Cath, is a freshman in college. She is rooming with a stranger, is separated from her twin sister for the first time, and trying to learn how to stand on her own two feet without her familiar world. Cath has graduated from high school and is well spoken and intelligent (she is even attending university on a scholarship). She knows her likes and dislikes, and yet she still has more room to grow as a person. This is exactly what New Adult is supposed to be. Within these two genres, there can be the sub-categories such as fantasy, science fiction, romance, and mystery. Young Adult has gained prominence in recent years due to the nature of Hollywood and the state of film adaptations. Currently, many successful franchises owe their success to Young Adult novels; everything from Twilight to The Hunger Games to The Fifth Wave. With the success of The Fault in our Stars and Paper Town, John Green has become one of the most well-known YA authors this past year. There are quite a few authors who specialize in Young Adult pieces such as Sarah Dessen, Sarah J. Moss, and Stephanie Perkins. I am still waiting to see what author conquers the New Adult genre and can be called the queen or king of that category.
As a reader, I appreciate the fact that these two particular genres exist because they would not receive the acclaim and audience that they deserve, if they were lost is a sea of fiction novels. Young Adult and New Adult are my favorite genres to read!