I read this pretty interesting article on Today.com all about the rise of “new adult” fiction. So what is it exactly? “New adult” refers to books that focuses on characters of the college and post-grad age range from 18-24 years old. Obviously in that time of your life, you go through a lot of changes and experiences. The thing though that these books really explore? The sex.
Let me start by saying that I am all for authors writing about whatever they want. I love reading books off the ALA’s Frequently Challenged Books list, and most of you have probably read some too. Writers should write about topics that make people (even me sometimes) uncomfortable, because that’s what makes you think.
Freedom of speech is super important, and I also think there is value in writing about real-life situations, and sex is definitely one of those topics. It’s not something to be embarrassed about, and I think having characters that show that can be really important. It’s promising if publishers want to create content older teens can really relate to.
I guess though while reading this article (especially with references to 50 Shades of Grey being mentioned by multiple interviewees), the one thing that just has me a little nervous about the genre is it seems things could end up being more interested in selling copies rather than rewarding stories. For example, one of things that kind of caught me off-guard was the idea that one publisher chose to publish a book and then an “uncensored” version.
Here’s my confusion with that: Are the books just being released with this added sexual stuff because they think it is a better move selling-wise? That’s just kind of annoying. Or, is it because the characters’ sexual experiences are really important to the story and characters’ journeys? If the answer to that question is “yes” (and if so, great!), then I guess I don’t get why you wouldn’t you just insist on selling it from the get-go with those scenes included.
A more open attitude in the publishing world in terms of content is definitely something to applaud. I’m totally all for these books to explore sexuality in more detail because it is definitely a topic that weighs on the minds of the 18-24 year old set. It’s certainly not wrong to write about or read about.
If there’s a great “new adult” story centered around sex, then awesome! There’s also a whole host of other topics that I think would make for really interesting “new adult” fiction stories as well because the ages of 18-24 can be a really tumultuous time for a bunch of reasons. Of course, you can certainly have sex and also other coming-of-age topics all in one book! At the same time, I also don’t think “new adult” authors would always need to then wedge a sex scene in there somewhere just to get people to appreciate this genre that I think has a lot of awesome potential and openness.
Have you heard of the “new adult” genre? What types of stories would you hope “new adult” fiction authors would tell? Tell us in the comments!