ionR: The New Adult genre: Success or Failure?

Posted April 16th, 2016 by in Blog, Features, ionR / 17 comments

ionR: The New Adult genre: A success or a failure with romance readers?


The New Adult genre: A success or a failure with romance readers?

Today we are discussing the topic of the New Adult genre and asking readers the important question-is this genre a hit or a miss? We hope that you join us!
In my solo opinion if there was a genre that was equally causing as much controversy in comparison with the erotic-fiction I would have to choose the New Adult romances that are in large supply in today’s publishing industry.
What exactly is New Adult? Believe or not I get asked this question many times by fellow readers and it is a great question to ask.
New Adult or sometimes referred to as new-adult fiction is a genre that is suppose to appeal to readers between ages 18-30 and celebrates leaving adolescents and becoming well, a new adult.
The genre was first proposed by St. Martin’s Press (a favorite publisher of mine) and since the year of 2009 the genre has been explored among authors and readers alike. So why all of the uproar? Well, here is my personal experience in reviewing this genre.
I do not typically understand the concept of the genre itself. Most of the standard romances that I am reading currently regardless of contemporary, historical, paranormal and so forth already have dealt with both heroines and heroes in this age range. The age range is quite popular in romance and rarely do I get to have a hero past the thirty mark. It does happen, but only on occasions. This leads me to believe that most publishers were already on board the ‘new adult’ trend before St. Martin’s Press began to market and to single the new-adult fiction as one genre. Still, that does not mean that there are not authors and novels to be enjoyed within this frame. After all we are all romance readers and we want to give each new genre, or book or even author a tryout.
As a reviewer I have done just that and have been impressed with NA authors such as Jennifer L. Armentrout, Tamarra Webber and Jamie McGuire. If those authors doesn’t sound familiar than I am certain that authors such as Sylvia Day and E.L. James will. If you are surprised to see that I am actually referring to the notorious Fifty Shades of Grey, then you are not alone. In reality the trilogy is actually considered by many critics to be an erotic, new-adult fiction and this is where the chaos begins.
Most critics have the largest dilemma regarding the genre based on the X. Should new-adult fiction offer such erotic, raw and sometimes abusive scenes? Or a more important question is-should heroines at such a tender and often times vulnerable age be introduced to such scenes? I do not think so, but I do not think that any large amounts pugnacious behavior that threatens the characters within the novel should be applauded.
Whatever the reasons as to why readers and reviewers together do not favor the NA fiction there are many valid points as to why we should give the genre a chance.
Here are a few of the more positive causes:

  • Authors tend to pen their novels very differently when writing a NA romance. This does not mean that every author will feature aggressive scenes and many do not.
  • Heroines/heroes do not have to deal with many of the same family issues as many of the elder characters have done such as with children, ex-spouses and so forth.
  • For those of us below the thirty-mark (myself included) it can be a fun retreat to see fictional characters learning and making the same errors that can relate to both love, education and careers without taking too much of a penalty for those mistakes.
  • HFN is a much larger and more acceptable marker in NA than the HEA-endings which suits the tones of the novels very well.

In the end whether or not we love, hate or have mutual feelings about the NA genre one thing that I think we can all agree on is that this new romance is here to stay.


Our questions are what are your opinions regarding the genre? Do you think novels should feature such fierce scenes? Lastly, have you or would read a novel from new-adult fiction? Please let us know!


Leone @bookishromantic




17 Responses to “ionR: The New Adult genre: Success or Failure?”

  1. BSBbabe

    As a young adult (a.k.a. teen) librarian and a romance fan, I have many opinions on the “new adult” genre/trend. At 43 years old, I can enjoy a “new adult” romance novel for the romance sake of it but I am annoyed by the college-age and twenty-something angst of the characters because I lived through it! I mostly prefer older heroes and heroines , 35+, because they are written with life experiences that I can relate too. I am sure that my mom would read a Jill Shalvis or a Susan Mallery novel, and be annoyed about the angst of a middle-aged woman.

    But, I applaud new adult novels, because teen romance readers age out of YA lit. They want to grow with their heroines emotionally,romantically, sexually (as they grow witn their real life experiences). It is all about relatability. (Full disclosure, I really love a good YA coming of age novel. For some reason, I don’t mind revisiting those days. lol.)

  2. Sue

    I’ve read a few NA novels but they are not for me. I can’t stand all the angst and lack of any life experience the characters generally have. Personally I can see a difference in the characters of novels that are NA, as above and generally more self centered. Obviously that is just my (very strong, lol) opinion and these type of books don’t do it for me, but for people who enjoy the NA novels, I am glad they are out there!

  3. Tammy H

    Like you mentioned, most characters have been in that age range anyway. I read whatever books interest me and some of those are NA, but most of the time I don’t even notice that it’s supposed to be in a different genre.

    • Leone (@bookishromantic)

      Hi Tammy! I think that you made a good point in mentioning that NA can sometimes feel like a different genre. Whenever a book is good I don’t think about the genre unless I’m reviewing the material. Regardless of the genre I think that if a book is great it speaks for itself!

  4. joab4424

    I feel like NA is more of a marketing ploy than anything else. I do like the idea of YA readers moving up to NA rather than directly into contemporary romances with older characters in them but I really don’t think NA books should have erotic or abusive scenes. I don’t think the readers are mature enough to accept it as fantasy.

  5. shygirl19748

    I’ve read numerous NA books and think there are some excellent authors that get the balance of angst & romance just right: Katy Evans, Jennifer L Armentrout, Monica Murphy, Helena Hunting. The format of the stories being either dual POVs or narratives is actually what I enjoy. It seems more intimate and like the reader is taking the journey along with the character as they grow and change.

    • Leone (@bookishromantic)

      Hi Shygirl! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I have to say that I do agree with you about the stronger voices in a NA romance. It can be exciting to see the characters grow and change into NA. :))

  6. Amy Rickman

    I do enjoy the NA genre some of my favorite books are considered NA Bully by Penelope Douglas, With Me Series by Elyssa Patrick and Penny Reid’s Elements of Chemistry series.

  7. Banana cake

    I have read some books that may be classified as new adult but was marketed as romance. I prefer to read traditional romance novels. The characters that are in the new adult books can be annoying.

  8. Linda Johnson

    I am not a huge fan of the NA novels in general, but do enjoy some of the authors. I do not agree with those who skirt the edge of eroticism. There does seem to be an excess of angst in many of them. I only read those recommended by friends, because the HFN is not a plus for me. I have enough reality in my ‘real’ life, lol, I want HEA fantasy in my book life.

  9. Maria Rose

    I’ve found that the majority of ‘NA’ marketed books that I’ve read are narrated in 1st person point of view (different than the more traditional 3rd person point of view ) and that the characters tend to have had some kind of trauma in their background (parents killed in a car accident, abusive home life, sexual abuse, etc.). I’ve enjoyed some, but get tired of the angst pretty quickly. I find it odd if an NA novel has a wedding proposal or such at the end. It’s much more realistic to me that a couple meeting in college for example would have a Happy For Now ending. When I hear younger than me people (I’m in my 40s) say that they only read 1st person Point of View (i.e. New Adult) it kind of makes me laugh because most romances weren’t written that way until recently. Tried and true romance readers over 35 often don’t care for that POV because they aren’t used to it. I know several readers who will not pick up a book because it’s in 1st POV.

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