We’ve all heard about the phenomenon that is Young Adult fiction. Stories of sixteen to eighteen-year-old protagonists fighting in a post-apocalyptic world, surviving against a zombie horde, growing up as orphans in a magical school, falling in love, or even navigating the unknown have been best sellers since Salinger’s Holden Caulfield Catcher in the Rye. These coming-of-age tales are quite popular as their subject and protagonists are relatable to many of the readers, so it comes as no surprise that many of these books have occupied considerable space on best-seller shelves, even if some of them receive scathing reviews by critics.
But what happens when readers who loved these books grow up into their twenties? Many can attest to the fact that what they found appealing when in their late teens became trivial and even somewhat irritating once they have experienced life away from the comfort of their homes. Topics like dealing with school bullies, classes, and teachers become meaningless, and so these readers put these books aside and begin to search for stories that they can relate to in their new situations.
This is where New Adult fiction comes in. A growing trend in the literary world, New Adult fiction picks up where Young Adult ends and focuses on themes that revolve around people in their early twenties all the way to thirty. This developing genre first came about in 2009, and focuses on issues of striking out as an individual, developing sexuality, and dealing with education, careers, and relationships. Gaining quite a following in recent years, writers who have yet to be published can capitalize on writing specifically for this genre. Although seen by many as a marketing scheme, it was seen as necessary because the label of New Adult helps potential readers to gauge if that book is for them or not.
The protagonist in this genre has a broader view of the world from age and experience and there is less of a bildungsroman feel, as there is more mature insight and perspective—something that is sorely lacking in Young Adult fiction, or teenagers, for that matter.
From college life, to financial problems, to struggling with careers and friendships post-graduation, the New Adult genre explores the period of what happens when the protagonist has become of legal age and enters into the sphere of adulthood.
However, because of the controversy surrounding this newly emerged genre, many traditional publishing houses have opted not to publish New Adult. This has prompted many authors to seek independent means and have turned to self-publishing as a means of getting their book out with successful results. Traditional publishing houses have now gotten on the bandwagon, but self-publishing has still been the main driving force for getting this genre out to readers.
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