Ramblings on New Adult

engagement-1718244_1920I’ve debated about writing about the genre of new adult for a time because I have a sense that there many writers and readers with strong opinions on this topic. I am not an industry expert and feared that if I wrote about this, I’d only expose what I didn’t know. But I am, as anyone must be who devotes hours a day to something, passionate about the genre. The bossy part of me wouldn’t let me get away without blogging about it. I set out in this entry to put down my personal observations about new adult based on my experiences as a reader and a writer of new adult.

First, I suggest reading this article from Publisher’s Weekly which, though a couple of years old, does a fabulous job of outlining a generally accepted understanding of the genre as well as its potential in the marketplace: click here.

NA features characters in their late teens and early twenties who are transitioning into the adult world. Whether we are talking about college experiences, a first career job, or a first big romance, these experiences present challenges to the characters. NA can be higher in intensity and emotion than adult since the stakes are often higher. Think about how many life-altering decisions are made in that short period of time. People choose careers. They choose where they will live. They make friends and connections that may last their entire lives.

NA is not a stepping stone from YA to adult. To assume so is insulting to the audience, whose ages range wider than the characters’ ages. It’s also missing the point of the NA genre which is to define this hot spot in the continuum of a character’s life. It’s the place storytellers so often revisit because it’s exciting to imagine oneself at that point of change. It is not so much a coming-of-age story as it is an okay-I’m-of-age…now-what? kind of story. NA characters are complex. They have a deep understanding of the world based on experiences, and that understanding will be challenged. Like most good fiction, there will be sacrifice and change.

young-couple-1031642_1920NA has been breaking ground in the digital market, and I love my digital books! In print, it’s been tougher for NA authors to break through. As a consumer of fiction, if there was a clear place for NA in the bookstore aside from the occasional end cap, I’d gravitate there. But NA, for the most part, has been mixed up with YA or adult books.

 

Here’s a list of some NA books I’ve read and loved (in no particular order):

FRIGID by Jennifer L. Armentrout

FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

HOPELESS by Colleen Hoover

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sarah J. Maas

UNTEACHABLE by Leah Raeder

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor

JERSEY ANGEL by Beth Ann Bauman

SHE LAUGHS IN PINK by Jessica Calla

BEAUTY TOUCHED THE BEAST (BEAUTY SERIES) by Skye Warren

SCARLET RAIN by Kristin Cast

AT ANY PRICE by Brenna Aubrey

PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles

As always, I am adding books to my TBR list. Two NA books I’m excited to read next are THE BEAUTIFUL ASHES by Jeaniene Frost and DREAMS OF A WILD HEART by Danube Adele–both paranormal NAs.

Do you have a favorite NA book or a few? Let me know–I’d love to hear about them!

Michelle Joyce Bond

 

Do We Really Need Happy Endings?

imageHave you ever read a book or watched a movie that was utterly destroyed by its ending?  You follow the characters passionately from beginning to end only to have the floor ripped out from under you in the last five minutes.  As avid consumers of media, we have been raised with an understanding of the tropes of specific genres.  Authors whisper promises to us between the lines, and we feel betrayed when those promises are broken.

We are well trained.

One of our common expectations, in Western literature at least, is to have a happy ending–or at the very least–and ending that is clear cut and lacks ambiguity.  That is not to say that there aren’t plenty of examples of pieces that rally against this and readers/viewers (myself included) that take great pleasure in endings that leave us in a grey zone–a questioning, confused, you’re-on-your-own-Jack zone.  It is up to the reader/viewer to try and answer those questions, and in doing so, ask even bigger ones.

It is the nerdiest and best kind of fun to get inside a piece of art(books/movies) and see how it ticks.  I love finding art that comments on art itself as well as the process of creating it, and best of all, I love finding art that comments on the viewer–that finds a way to take that viewer’s thinking apart as the viewer is taking the art apart.

This is exactly what I found in The Bag Man.  This movie got bad reviews, but I watched it anyway because–hey–I’m obsessed with John Cusak.  As I watched it, I thought I understood why it failed.  The movie was written to comment on scripts–on plot conventions and tropes of the fiction crystallized beautifully in De Niro’s monologue in Room 14 toward the end of the film (which I won’t ruin–just watch it!).  There was also a nifty supernatural layer that made the viewer question whether they were dealing with angels and devils–if only for a brief time.  I surmised the reason most viewers couldn’t connect with this movie was because they couldn’t grasp those layers–that it was a movie more for critics and weirdos like me than for general audiences.

But then I reached the true horror of this film–its ending.

The last five minutes seemed rushed and out of place.  This “happy” ending gave undue closure to what was otherwise a grotesque/beautiful pool of ambiguity that led the viewer to ask questions about our dark hero and how “good” he really is.  THEY SHOULD HAVE LEFT IT!!

I am neither for nor against happy endings.  I love all kinds of endings as long as they fit.  When something is forced in because it is expected…it’s pretty sad.  We remember endings and beginnings best (brain science, baby), so make them count!

Michelle Joyce Bond