Let’s Talk About: What is New Adult?!


Hello peeps. I haven’t done a discussion post in a while, since last year actually, but this past month me and  Cátia @The Girl Who Read Too were discussing some of the books we were reading and debating whether or not they fell on the New Adult category. This, of course, if because we’re doing the 2017 New Adult Reading Challenge, created by Cátia herself. This is not going to be long…


If you type in “What is New Adult” on google, this is what shows up:

New adult (NA) fiction, also rendered as newadult fiction, is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket. …New adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.

But if you keep looking, you will find some other definitions that fit the category, such as:

New Adult books focus on the period in life where you are becoming a proper adult. The characters are usually between about 18 – 25 and are generally either at college or starting their first job. The category fits in between YA and Adult books. It has a similar coming of age feel as YA books but rather than people experiencing their first kisses the content and issues used are more mature such as first serious relationships and heartbreak. (Link)

These are not exactly different, but they make it sometimes hard to properly define a book as NA. Why? Mostly the age bracket.

There is no doubt that New Adult books are usually set at a time that a person is going through the transition into adulthood, and sometimes that involves getting into college, figuring out what to do if you don’t want to go to college, figuring out life after college or after something major shifts in your life. Leaving home, big changes, first job… those are no brainers. A book set in college are the easiest to determine whether they belong in NA or not, because they are the DEFINITION of NA.


But some books are harder. I remember that the first time I read Wallbanger I thought it was NA, because the characters are young and it has such a light funny vibe to it, that I easily associate with the genre. But then someone pointed out that Both Caroline and Simon have fixed and stable jobs, are both at their own houses, and are for all intents and purposes, ADULTS. So yeah, this whole categorizing books is not easy.

On another hand, me and Cátia recently read Good Boy and were left wondering if this would be considered New Adult or not. Both characters are over 25, but Jess is starting grad school and it at a really hard limbo in her life, but both characters have been “adults” for a while. It does deal with themes of growing up and finding her own path, but in the end, Cátia decided that this book was NA to her, while I classified it as just a Romance.

I think that ultimately the most confusing thing about this whole discussion is the age. Some people define the genre from 18 to 25, while others extend it to 30. And honestly, nowadays, when we are finding our paths later and later in life, I think it’s possible to have a NA book where the main characters are over 25.

Another issue is that a lot of people think that New Adult books ALWAYS include explicit sex and/or profanities. No guys, NO! There’s NA that doesn’t have sex at all. There’s extremely mild NA. I’ve read YA books spicier than some NA books I’ve read.

Then you have the opposite, and books that deal with all the issues mentioned above are classified as Young Adult. Remind you of anything? Yeah… Fangirl… that book should be put firmly in the New Adult category.


I try to follow the definitions set above. I’m just not very strict about the whole age interval thing. So, here are some things that a book has to have for me to classify it as New Adult:

  • one or both characters, under the age of 30:
    • going through some life changing event;
    • starting, being or finishing college;
    • finding themselves;
    • looking or starting a new path in life;
    • anything that i think makes up the life of a brand new adult person!

There are some other things that I expect to find in my beloved NA romances, such as lots of sex, but again, that is not mandatory or a given. I do think it’s a normal time of one’s life to think, discuss it and experiment with it.

If both of the main characters have a defined place in life and are not dealing with any major thing, I usually don’t classify it as NA, even if they are young enough to be put on that category.

This was just for me to clarify how I look at New Adult and what I see as it. But I know that a lot of people have several different definitions of what constituted this category. And I want to know them!

Also, is there any book that has been classified as New Adult and you don’t agree with?
Or any that is not in the category and you think it should be?
How do you define NA?

Hit my comments and answer these questions, I’m curious!

34 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About: What is New Adult?!

  1. Savana Charter - The Biblio Life says:

    I haven’t had many experiences with NA yet, I’m still trying to figure out what I think it is so I was psyched when I saw this post! In response to the question above by MiRakelBooks, I recently read the A Court of Thorns and Roses/A Court of Mist and Fury books by Sarah J Maas which I’ve heard countless people say need to be classified as NA but I believe they are technically part of the YA genre. There’s a fine line, and from reading what this post has offered and my own light research on it I really don’t think that they fit the category in many ways other than the fact that there’s sexually explicit material in both and the character is 18/19 years old. I can’t justify it as well regarding the life events portion of things because it is a fantasy story and it’s much more vague I think than contemporary fiction. I truly think they are fine being in the YA category, perhaps on the more sexual side of the spectrum but I’ve read other YA books with similar content.

    • My Tiny Obsessions says:

      lol, actually, when ACOTAR came out, SJM said that it was New adult. Feyre is past the 19 years of age now, and everyone else is way older. So from an age point of view, it is definitly NA. Then about content too, there’s too much sexual content and violence for it to be put on the YA category. I think people have an issue with putting it in NA because there’s still a very big stigma about the category.

  2. lacyliteracy says:

    I love this conversation!!! New Adult is such an interesting genre because it is so young, people are still learning about its existence, and there are no clear cut qualifications.

    There is only one book that I’ve ever come across that was tagged as New Adult, when I didn’t agree and that was Exes by Aria Hawthorne. It didn’t read New Adult and the characters were in their 30s. I see more books that are classified as Young Adult that I think are actually New Adult like ACOTAR, which was originally going to be classified as New Adult until the publishers changed it (probably to capitalize on YA readers and Sarah’s fans from TOG because it is clearly NA).

    My NA qualifications are fairly similar to yours.

  3. ikramreads says:

    New Adult is just one of those genres that no one seems to agree on what the parameters are. I actually have really similar thoughts as to what NA is, the characters have to be under at least 30 and are going through some life changing event. 🙂

  4. anovelglimpse says:

    This is a really tough genre to define. I tend to stick with if the main character(s) is/are between 18-29. But I also think there is a different feel to NA books than adult romances. It’s so tough! I would have classified Wallbanger as NA, if you hadn’t pointed it out.

  5. nevillegirl says:

    Can you recommend some good NA books that don’t have sex and/or romance? Not that I necessarily mind either, usually, it’s just that my conception of the genre WAS that it was mostly these things and so, other than Fangirl, I’m interested to see what else there is in NA! Thanks! Lovely post! 😀

    • My Tiny Obsessions says:

      Ok, first of let me tell you, I actually do search my NA with romance and sex, because I love it. But still, after going through my read shelf, I found The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone, which is a mystery novel and a comedy, there is a hint of romance, but it’s never even important. Then The Keeper by Jillian Liota is a romance contemporary, but it doesn’t have sex or explicit scenes at all. Never Stop Falling by Ashley Drew is also a really great romance without any steam. Sever by J.M. Miller is also a different kind of contemporary, because it’s a suspense book, and although it does have romance, it’s tame on the subject. I also think that most fantasy nowadays is not exactly YA, so… 😛

  6. Jess @ JBelkBooks says:

    Thank you for this post!! I was also confused with what novels were considered NA, just because like young adult, it can be categorized in multiple ways like you mentioned. I don’t read much NA, but when I do decide to browse that genre I’m always a little hesitant because I always question whether it’s really “New Adult”. I agree with how you categorize NA as well — I’ll definitely take your input into consideration when I look into NA more (: Great post!

    -Jess @jbelkbooks

  7. Puput @ Sparkling Letters says:

    This is such a great post! Lately I’ve been into NA because like you said, it explores some even more ‘real’ issues that I can relate because I’m exactly at that time of my life. I want to read books where the characters are looking for a job, going through arguments with their parents, looking for real love, and all that. I’ve been reading quite a lot of NA but most of them portray explicit sex haha I don’t really mind, but do you have any recs of books that don’t put too much emphasize on sex? Thanks in advance 😀

    • My Tiny Obsessions says:

      Hey, so you obviously have fangirl, which is the best example of NA without sex. Then here are some books that might work: “I found The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone, which is a mystery novel and a comedy, there is a hint of romance, but it’s never even important. Then The Keeper by Jillian Liota is a romance contemporary, but it doesn’t have sex or explicit scenes at all. Never Stop Falling by Ashley Drew is also a really great romance without any steam. Sever by J.M. Miller is also a different kind of contemporary, because it’s a suspense book, and although it does have romance, it’s tame on the subject”

      Now… I know I’ve read more college romances that were very light on sex, but I can’t think of any at the moment… sorry. I will keep my eyes open for them and I will recommend them to you for sure 😀

  8. Aldii says:

    I have had this post on my faves so I could read it and now I’m finally doing it!
    I really wanted to read this because of the blogs I follow when I think of NA Romance I think of your blog so I wanted to see what you have to say. I actually haven’t thought of how I define NA so this is a great help to me, I’m not sure I really knew how it was defined. Now that you point it I agree that it has to do with the struggles before becoming fully an ‘adult’ and the changes involved in the characters.
    I’m going to keep in mind this because lately I have been into romance a lot and now I’m in a part of my ‘reading life’ where I mostly read NA/Adult books and some YA to change a bit.
    Great post!

  9. katreadssph says:

    I love NA, I have been a huge follower of the genre for sometime now, but honestly, I still find it hard to classify some books until now! 🙂 I think the most lame definition I’ve hear about NA is this: “It’s just YA, but with sex stuff in it.” The thing about NA is it’s a very misunderstood genre, and some people think that it’s just the sexual content that separates it from YA. However, sometimes, it’s in NA that you could really pick life’s greatest lessons like acceptance, hope, love for oneself, and a whole lot more!

    • My Tiny Obsessions says:

      yes so much yes to this!
      YA tends to deal with a lot of first love stuff, while NA has the space to deal with already broken heart, how to deal with baggage and things that YA MCs sometimes don’t have the age to have experienced it yet.

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