News Home RSS Feed

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A “New” Genre Is Born

Written by Jon Williams

There was a time when “young adult” wasn’t much of a genre unto itself, when novels about young protagonists were simply grouped into the regular literature category. Examples include books like A Separate Peace and To Kill a Mockingbird, both of which feature adult narrators looking back on their younger days. Over time, as writers and publishers began to see tweens (another fairly recent term) and teens as a group with distinct interests and anxieties that could be explored, the young adult genre took off. It has thrived in recent years with novels and series like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and The Fault in Our Stars, to name just a few.

Now another new genre is taking shape in much the same way. A seed was planted with the observation that many adult readers were dipping into those above-mentioned YA titles to find reading material for themselves, not just for their kids. That seed was watered by the wild success of the Fifty Shades series (which itself grew out of the Twilight phenomenon), in which a college-age main character explores her burgeoning sexuality. Now the “new adult” genre is beginning to sprout; what it will eventually grow into is, right now, anyone’s guess.

Boiled down to its essence, new adult fiction deals with characters in their late teens to early twenties, dealing with the issues that people of that age would typically be dealing with, including identity, leaving home, transitioning into the “real world,” marriage (and divorce), etc. Of course, following in the footsteps of Fifty Shades, romance and sexuality also play a huge role thematically in the first wave of new adult books. Authors leading the way in the romance-dominated early days of the genre include Abbi Glines, Colleen Hoover, Jay Crownover, Molly McAdams, and Jamie McGuire.

Librarians, as this article notes, are now interested to see where the genre goes from here. With young, naturally dynamic characters as protagonists, there’s no reason why more tropes than just romance can’t be incorporated as a prime focus. That will perhaps (or perhaps not) help librarians solve another concern over this new genre—how to categorize it. Does it go in the general fiction section? Or should it be shelved with romance, or in the young adult area? Compounding this issue is the fact that many patrons interested in new adult fiction aren’t the same age as the characters in the books—adult readers are just as interested in these tales as their younger counterparts.

Has your library seen much patron interest in these new adult titles? How are you dealing with the categorization issues? Let us know in the comments section below, along with what you would like to see from the genre as it develops.

No comments:

Post a Comment