Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Discussion: YA vs. NA

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the difference between Young Adult (YA) and New Adult (NA) because I've started a manuscript that could work as either. So I've been asking myself what the central differences are and I thought it might make a good discussion this week.

So what are the differences between YA and NA?

For me, it all boils down to the central question of the book.

YA is all about discovering who you want to become.

NA is discovering how the person you've decided you want to be fits into the world.

All the YA I books I can think of have the character come to some realization near the end of the novel that allows them to discover who they are. They learn something about themselves.

In The Hunger Games, Katniss does anything to protect herself for most of the novel but when she is forced to kill Peeta to win, she decides they will both kill themselves rather than be forced to kill each other. She learns that she cares for him and that shapes the rest of the series.

In Shatter Me, Juliette feels like she deserves to be locked up because her touch can kill but when she realizes she can't hurt Adam, she decides to see herself differently which allows her to fight for her life.

In If I Stay, Mia isn't sure whether she should let go and die when her entire family dies, but through listening how her friends and family see her, she decides to stay.

All of these stories allow the characters to see themselves in a different light which allows them to become who they are. They discover the type of people they want to become and prove it by actively becoming these people in the end.

I feel like New Adult takes this idea and explores what happens after. How can new Katniss live in the world when she's allowed herself to have more attachments than just her immediate family? How can Juliette learn to live with her power now that she's decided to fight for her life? Now that Mia sees herself as the people she loves does and gets a second shot of life, how is she going to use it?

In YA, the characters recieve the means to grow up. They find the path they want to take. I think NA explores them going down that path. It tests the people they discovered and sometimes it changes them.

I've been holding off my judgement on this emerging category because I wasn't sure it would last but I've decided I don't care. I love that authors are writing stories for the scary time between transitioning from living at home with minimal responsibility to living on your own with all of it. Because let's face it, doing laundry for the first time is damn scary and we need to know about that too.

So what do you think? That are the differences between YA and NA?


  1. I've never heard of NA before but I like your distinction.

  2. I like your take on this. I've had several people say that my book should be NA instead of YA because the main character is in college. It was difficult when I published because NA was so new, and many places didn't even recognize the genre.

    I tend to think that YA is more about the intended audience than the age of the characters, though. To me, that's the main distinction - YA is written for teenagers (although older readers can definitely enjoy it) while NA is for that college-20s range (although there's often some overlap.) This affects content in that YA would be much more innocent (for lack of a better word) - less sexually explicit, no graphic violence/language, etc. - where NA, since it is for an older audience, would have fewer restrictions.

    Just my thoughts...

  3. I had never heard of NA either, but it makes sense. I would always say something like "meant for older terns" or "mature YA " but neither felt fully accurate. I will have to explore this new category because it sounds like I read more NA than YA. Who knew?

  4. I like the idea of NA in theory, although I've yet to find a book that I really like. I've tried quite a few, like EASY and BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, but they just feel like YA with more sex. I don't like those kinds. But I do really like the idea of having the books explore what it's like to be a true "young adult," in your early 20s, at college or fresh out of college, finding your way in the "real world." This bleeds over into chick-lit I think, but I'd like to see some fantasy/sci-fi NA too.

    But from what I've gathered, editors are still a little unsure about NA if it's not a contemporary romance. Someone needs to break into that market so it'll blow up IMHO.

  5. The way you write about NA makes me want to really like it. However, the main problem for me is that while it does have some good themes going on, it is also has some much more mature content that I just don't want to read. I'm just not into reading about explicit sex, and I feel like it would really pull me out of the story to be randomly skipping over those bits and all of that. Of course I know that not all NA is gonna have stuff like that, but I think most of it will and I'd just rather avoid altogether than have to deal with it. A good example of a book that has a bit of the same NA them you're talking about, but is a YA novel is Return to Me by Justina Chen. I LOVED that book and I felt it was really relevant to my life even though I am a college student and not really the target age demographic for YA anymore. :)

  6. I do really like the idea of having the books explore what it's like to be a true "young adult,"


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