What’s the difference between Young Adult (YA) and New Adult (NA)? The answer to the question is seemingly pretty simple. It all lies in the name. Most people in the publishing world consider books about characters around 14 – 21 years old, teenagers experiencing the transition between childhood and being teen. On the other hand, NA is typically about characters 18 – 26 years old who are experiencing the transition between being a teenager to being an adult. In YA characters are usually in high school and/or go through problems teens can relate to. Likewise, characters in NA usually are in college or experiencing the first steps to becoming a full adult (living on his/her own for the first time, going to a job interview, getting a his/her first full time job, etc). You’re probably thinking “okay that sounds simple, but what’s the catch?”
The catch is how the two genres are defined varies from their connotations. The way people perceive each genre is different from what they really are. A lot of people think YA is only for teens to read because they only go through “teenage” problems. They also brush it off as somewhat like chic lit. And while it is true that most YA books are not written with the same advanced craft and prose that can be found in what many consider classic novels, YA books can be beautifully written too. Also, for some reason, at least in my experience, when some adults who don’t read YA, think of that genre, they always happen to think of Twilight, which isn’t really isn’t the best written YA book out there. Way to stereotype books and genres. -__- While we’re on the subject of stereotypes, let’s talk about NA.
NA faces similar problems. When most people outside of the bookish world think of a NA novel, they think of some steamy romance novel. I’ve heard some kids in my school say that they will read anything except NA and exotica. And yes, before you ask, they will read adult. Contrary to some popular belief, NA really isn’t like exotica. A NA book like Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross is not going to be anywhere close to something like Fifty Shades of Grey. Remember, NA explores things new adults go through so yes, sex might be included and implied. But isn’t it relevant in some YA books too? Sure the “romantic” scenes might be steamier than YA, but they won’t fog the mirror up as much as an adult book.
So next time you think of YA, don’t think of it as books only teens read. Think of it as books about teens and the issues they may face in real life. When you think of NA, don’t think of super steamy scenes with mature content. Think of it as books about people who are transitioning from being teenagers to their first time in the real adult world and the problems they may face.