Developing genre spotlights complex issues of the young adult experience


Kathie Rojas / Hilltop Views

New-adult fiction is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket.

New-adult fiction has easily been addressed as a more elaborate young adult genre coated with accentuated sexual themes. The genre gained popularity in 2012 with self publishing authors like Cora Carmack and Jasinda Wilder.

They and other bestselling new-adult authors have created a platform that comes at an advantage against other genres for millennial readers that prefer ebooks, and engage with their authors via social media. Based on these prevalent themes in new- adult novels, here is a list of books you can consider for a new read.

New Beginnings: “Maybe Someday” by Colleen Hoover

“Maybe Someday”, details the life of 22-year-old Sydney, a college student in the midst of a relationship, college friendships and new experiences. The book covers themes of betrayal, love  and friendship. At the onset, Hoover dispatches the reader into the heart of the conflict between Sydney and her best friend. While this novel is centrally concentrated on first love, there is so much more to unpack. The protagonist undergoes tidal shifts in her core relationships with her roommate and boyfriend that hold her steady. If you love page turners on college experiences, this is the book for you.

Substance Abuse: “The Spectacular Now” by Tim Tharp 

The Spectacular Now was a National Book Award Finalist. It is armored heavily with themes of drug abuse, new love and familial conflict. The novel follows a so-called, typical high school guy, Sutter Keely. This book explores the protagonist’s issues with alcoholism and his absent father.

Even though the protagonist is in high school, the events and topics explored extend to more serious topics of addiction and abandonment. This book has been highly raved about, and offers a raw scope into issues that are easily washed squeaky clean in the young adult genre. If you are looking for a book that dives into more unrestrained themes, “The Spectacular Now” would be a great read.

Identity Development:  “The Soul Thief” by Charles Baxter 

Arguably a new-adult book, “The Soul Thief” is based on identity, adult living and discovering sexuality. The story follows Nathaniel Mason, a graduate student in New York who is drawn into intricate relationships with Jerome Coolberg, a mysterious and slightly ominous character, and Theresa, Nathaniel’s love interest. The novel highlights the formation of adult relationships and the costs of adult living. If you are looking for a book charged with exploring identity, this is a must read.

We are all college students with developing narratives, so this book is universally good for university students.

To hunt down the perfect new- adult novel, it is essential to not immediately reject novels that spotlight romance.

As the new-adult reading age group might reveal, romance is an important factor in the majority of readers’ lives, but so are all of these other experiences.  Give these books a chance — and do not shy away from oversexualized book covers.