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New Adult Fiction: New Genre Necessary?

12 Feb

New Adult Fiction has been in the news lately because of its continuing growth in popularity.  How much do you know about it?  How does it mix in with (or exclude itself from) YA Lit?          

 In 2009, when New Adult Fiction made its first mark on the literary scene, it was part of a publishing contest run by St. Martin’s Press.  This publishing house felt as though a genre that appealed to the eighteen to thirty year old was a great marketing tool. This age group could benefit from titles that revolved around adults trying to find their place in the world with a backdrop that reflected this stage of life.  Characters in New Adult works have had, in general, more life experience than your YA protagonist, and that provides a great deal of story depth. According to an interview conducted via blog post by Georgia McBride, St. Martin’s Press admits that it wasn’t trying to revolutionize genres.  “…why New Adult? For many reasons–publishing is a business like (and unlike) any other, and it constantly changes and evolves–I would argue it NEEDS to change and evolve–in order to survive,”.

Recognizing this genre is an example of what libraries do all the time–keep our eyes peeled for the sake of the patron and evolve as their needs do. My library divides by genre to an extent, but does it need a section devoted to just New Adult titles?  Seemingly, the main purpose of genre division is to create ease in book location through browseable areas. Think back a bit to the library of your childhood.  Did you always feel like your library had a shelf you could walk to and choose any book knowing that it was right for you? For those of us in our thirties (like myself), there wasn’t much YA fiction out there when we needed it—I went from The Babysitter’s Club to Sweet Valley High to Adult fiction because those were my only choices. There WAS no YA fiction section fifteen years or so ago in most libraries, but now we’ve got authors who are heralded for their work with that age group. Why not create another area that would appeal to a set of patrons? Topically, the plots in New Adult are similar those of some Young Adult titles.  What’s different, though, are the settings and ages through which the topics are explored.

But then I stop living in the 80s and 90s and remember that times have changed. The topics that were covered in the Sweet Valley High series are now a far cry from some (most) of the plots and characters in Young Adult literature today.  As the world changed, so did the topics that challenged the young adult.  In order to stay relevant and reflective of the audience, authors’ plot lines followed the maturing trend.  Call me crazy, but I don’t think Elizabeth and Jessica’s beach days would hold much of a candle to the kids in an Alabama prep school who experience love, sex and the death of a friend so fully and painfully.  (I love John Green, sorry not sorry!) This doesn’t convince me that an entire new genre is necessary for my library.  I’m going to keep on getting the right reader to the right book the old fashioned way–conversation and connection over literature of all kinds.

New Adult fiction is another topical evolution in the library’s world.  This librarian doesn’t think that it needs its own section just yet, but a working knowledge of titles would be a tool to keep handy for sure.  It will be refreshing to see the newer adults who come up to our area of the library feel less ashamed when they take a book out of the Teen section.  There are so many great choices there!  Because our Teen section shares the same service desk with our Adults, I very unabashedly recommend my YA choices out into the Adult patron population.  (Check out our Wordless Display sometime. I pick a topic and then toss ANYTHING up there that I can!)  If anyone asks me for an audio recommendation, I almost always recommend either Bray’s Beauty Queens (thought the print was funny?  LISTEN to those Miss Teen Dreamer accents!) or Williams’s The Chosen One (favorite reading of a novel, hands down, ever). When patrons come back and talk to me about them, as they almost always do, they’re shocked to learn that these are Teen audio.

But, shocked in a good way.

Need some help choosing a good New Adult fiction title? Check out fellow SLYK blogger Rebekah’s list of teen titles that would be good New Adult choices.

Anything But Ordinary by Lara Avery
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Where She Went by Gayle Foreman
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
An Off Year by Claire Zulkey

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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Booklist, Random Thought

 

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