Discussion: NA Lit

For those of you that don’t know, ‘NA Lit’ is New Adult Literature.  It’s literature aimed at, well, new adults in their early twenties.  It’s one of the fastest growing genres out there and has exploded in popularity in just a single year.  But it’s controversial.

Supporters say that NA can portray a time in people’s lives that is still very turbulent because it’s a time when most people are off to post-secondary education, they’re on their own for the first time, they’re starting to date outside their comfort zones, etc.  Critics say that NA lit is basically a sexed-up more violent version of Young Adult literature.

Personally, I don’t really have a stance on NA.  Like with every genre, it has some good and some bad books.  That’s just how it is.  As for whether it’s a legitimate genre or not I figure I’ll let the literature snobs in magazines and newspapers argue about it while I read or ignore it at my leisure.  I don’t intentionally seek out NA lit to read but I have read some books and they weren’t really all that different from YA.  But I have limited experience in the matter.

So what I want to know is: what do you think of the emergence of New Adult literature?  Is it an important genre for people in the targeted age group?  Do you like NA?  Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Mark Lee (@MasqCrew)

    From a purely marketing standpoint, it’s a great thing. We need more genres and more ways to categorize books because there are just so many of them out there. It’s easier to get noticed if there is less competition in your exact area.

    Some might not gravitate toward a particular genre, like yourself, but others read from only one genre. Segmenting readers like this could help the right reader find the right book.

    Of course, the notion that a book is written with a particular group in mind does not mean others outside that group won’t like it. Many older adults read YA and NA.

    I’ve read on several occasions that YA is getting steamier, more violent, and the like, which like you mentioned, makes it and NA not that much different. I think it would be nice if one could pick up a YA book and know with a certain amount of certainty that it won’t have certain elements to it. Want those things? Read NA. Sadly, it appears that’s just not the case.

    • Carrie Slager

      From a marketing standpoint, I suppose it is a pretty good thing for more categories. Then, like you said, readers can find more specific books that they’re interested in. If they like fantasy but tend to like Medieval European-esque fantasy they can go fantasy>high fantasy>medieval. It’s the same idea with NA. In some ways, though, I wish there was more of a clear separation between NA and YA for the reasons you mention.

  2. Michelle

    I’m not a fan of NA, because I prefer older characters (over 40, but at least, over 30). I also prefer strong, independent, professional female characters and NA women tend to be in college or graduate school. The male leads are a bit farfetched – billionaires, MMA fighters, members of motorcycle clubs, as NONE of the women I knew in college dated, or even knew any of these men. In the few NA books I’ve read, I found the characters to be too immature, damaged (there are a disturbing amount of abused victims) and whiny for my taste.

    The books have become a commercial success, which bodes well for all of contemporary romance. Creating a new genre for books that are YA’s sexier, darker older cousin was great for marketing. Ultimately, readers will always buy quality stories.

    • Carrie Slager

      That’s fair enough and I haven’t really read enough NA to judge. I think in the genre there are probably a lot of stories with far-fetched male leads, but it’s also the same in a lot of genres like YA. It all depends on what books you get and that’s where book reviewers come in. If you find a couple you trust to give fair reviews it’s easier to wade through the crap to find a story you’ll like.

  3. Megan.S

    I’ve just started reading the NA genre, and while I believe what Michelle said above is valid, there are some books that drift away from those stereotypes. I’m in that age group of “new adults,” and although I’ve enjoyed my fair share of YA novels, I craved something that was older, more mature, and the NA genre nailed that.

    Those books aren’t for everyone.

    For me, I’ve been on my own since seventeen, will be graduating with a master’s degree next week, and while I may not be an adult in every sense of the word, I believe others like me can relate more to these characters and the lives they lead as we are doing the same or are just coming out of that lifestyle.

    It’s a good middle ground between the YA and adult genres. At least, that’s my personal opinion.

    • Carrie Slager

      Fair enough. I’m looking to expand a little into NA and I think the better books in the genre are like you said: something older, more mature. There are of course a lot of stereotypical characters and plots but that’s where book reviewers have their place. A good review that points out cliches or ridiculous plot elements/characterizations is invaluable.

  4. Diantha Jones (@DianthaJones)

    As with all genres, NA has the good and the bad. I agree is a more sexed up YA genre, but that’s okay because in reality people in their early 20’s do tend to be more “sexed-up” than teenagers. Its a genre for those readers. I agree with Michelle ^^^ that a lot of the female characters are abuse victims. What is up with that? It’s almost like the authors feel that by the age of 22 at least most females have been abused in some way which is totally untrue. At least, I hope it is. And then I think that maybe the authors feel they can’t build solid relationships between their characters if the male isn’t saving the female from her pain and bringing her back into the light.

    As for the farfetched characters–I agree about the billionaires, but I met a few boxers and motorcycle club members during my early twenties so they definitely exist, even though I preferred dating dorks lol. But over all I enjoy the genre and think it has a place in literature. It’s really about books being categorized correctly as there is a fine line between YA/NA and NA/Adult.

  5. patricksponaugle

    I don’t know if I have an opinion on NA vs. YA. The term seems weird to me, since New Adult sounds to be post-Young Adult, but New Adult sounds younger to me than Young. Right? I mean, you can’t get younger than new.

  6. Author Unpublished

    I’m not sure I know my own stance on NA literature. On the one hand, I think the new category is rather needless. When we start divvying up categories into smaller and smaller age groups, all it does is cause more issues when picking genre’s for books. I tend to like the rather straight-forward categories of Children’s Literature (Pre-13), Teen/YA Literature (13-17), and Adult Literature (18+). Why do we need more categories? On the other hand, I like the feel of books currently defined as New Adult. I like YA books for their simplicity and drama, but with a more adult tinge towards the language, situations, and sex, NA is a better fit for the books I tend to look for. (I’m predominantly a romance reader at heart). My major concern will be when we push the categories even further. Sometimes I think we’re already being a little too OCD about our classifications. Been to Amazon lately? Their categories are getting out of hand. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense>Mystery>Hard-Boiled>British Detectives should not be a thing. When a book has 20 genre descriptors instead of two or three, we’re pushing things too far.

    • Carrie Slager

      More categories are nice if you’re like me and have had your fill of say Fantasy>High Fantasy>Medieval European and would like to branch out into Fantasy>High Fantasy> Non-Traditional. But for the average consumer you’re right in saying that all those categories aren’t really necessary. They can help people find really specifically books they’re looking for but it’s getting a little ridiculous.

      I think NA has its place, the same as YA. It’s just a matter of wading through the crap.

  7. literaryvittles

    Huh I haven’t heard about NA literature before. I’d be eager to see you review some books from the genre, though, as I fit nicely into their target audience description and wouldn’t mind reading one or two.

    Also, I noticed that your blog was suspended for a couple of days – any idea why that happened?? I’m glad you’re back online!

    • Carrie Slager

      I’m actually thinking about expanding my reading horizons and requesting some NA from NetGalley so I think you can definitely look forward to some NA reviews in the future. 🙂

  8. Margaret

    While I’ve never checked out a NA book, I’m glad there’s finally a word for it. Striking out on your own for the first time is an important time in your life.

    I noticed earlier posters complained the genre falls into stereotypes with billionaires, motorcycles, and lots and lots of sex. Is there room in the genre for a dorky college student trying to balance her Differential Equations homework with dating for the first time? What about an 18-year-old Army recruit who gets thrown into Iraq?

    • Carrie Slager

      I think there’s definitely room in NA for stories like that. It’s quite a flexible genre in part because it started with self-published authors so there’s always room for expansion. And it’ll be nice to see some semi-normal situations in the genre.

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  10. Jennifer Lane

    Thanks for the Twitter follow–back at you. This is a good discussion. I happen to enjoy NA…college was one of the best experiences of my life so I love reading about and working with college aged individuals. YA feels too restrictive to me in terms of sex and language, even though some authors push those boundaries. I agree with an earlier post that millionaire men aren’t very realistic and I want to read about more realistic men.

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