YA vs. NA - What's the Difference?
I’m sure you’ve heard of Young Adult fiction. It’s an enormous genre that caters to readers from 12 to 18 years of age and focuses on matters and topics that correlate with a reader’s age and experience. Its original purpose was to soften the divide between children’s literature and adult fiction by providing entry into more complex themes and subgenres. Older YA books – like Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and The Giver – were (perhaps still are?) required reading in school. It wasn’t until the emergence of J.K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter series that YA fiction really took root.
Other popular, more modern YA fiction include:
Holes by Louis Sachar
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Modern YA fiction can cover a variety of topics and themes that were once deemed taboo for the casual teenage reader. Concepts such as death, first love, individuality, friendship, problem solving, and courage are common themes within modern YA books.
But as readers grow and mature, they have a natural proclivity not to move on to adult fiction, but to cleave to the YA genre. I know plenty of adults well into their twenties and thirties (myself included) who adore YA fiction’s relevance, heartiness, and emotion.
The term New Adult (NA) fiction didn’t come around until 2009 when a printing press set out a call for fiction that was similar to YA fiction but that could be marketed toward adults. Thus, New Adult fiction was born! Like YA fiction, NA fiction encompasses the above themes (and more) but aims its content at those between the ages of 18 and 30.
But what does that look like?
NA fiction takes themes like first love or individuality and builds upon them, peppering in problems and dilemmas adults entering the work force might face. This can include discovering an individual’s sexuality, dealing with homelessness or drug addiction, navigating the mundanity of adult life, and more. NA fiction delves deeper into the psychology of the new adult protagonist, reflecting life lessons and trials with which readers might also identify.
Because the genre is meant for an older audience, explicit content becomes acceptable. Such matter includes vulgar language, sexual content, and graphic violence (all of which are frowned upon in YA fiction).
So, are you an adult between the ages of 18 and 30 in search of books that play to your heightened emotions? Then do I have a genre for you! Below is a list of NA fiction books:
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Rhys of Earth by Kara D. Wilson
Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
Remember Us by Lindsay Black and Layne James
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Keep You Close by Lucie Whitehouse
Commonly attributed to Voltaire, though it is said Voltaire took it from an old Italian proverb, this aphorism (n. A pithy observation that contains a general truth) sounds simple enough to comprehend. Only when it is put into practice does one realize its inherent difficulty.
All artists – painters, dancers, singers, thespians, craft gurus, woodworkers, and yes, writers – strive for perfection, strive to become better and to achieve more. When we see mistakes in others’ work, we assure ourselves, “Oh, I would never let that happen” or ask, “How could they have missed that?” In manuscripts of all kinds, errors are unavoidable. Even those books at the top of the New York Times Best-Sellers List are published with minor errors and typos.
Perhaps a pronoun was supposed to read “she” but passed copyeditors and proofreaders as “he,” with its S dropped.
Maybe a gender-neutral machine or AI was mistakenly made a “him” instead of an “it.” Or suppose someone – the author or a copyeditor – had a brain fart and ended up typing “Hitch-pitch scream” instead “high-pitch scream.” Mistakes happen.
No matter how many times you or your editors review your manuscript, errors will continue to subsist. Humans are imperfect creatures, after all. They grow weary, they lose focus, they become distracted. An author could have ten different people review their manuscript and still publish with a handful of errors scattered throughout.
But I’ll just keep rereading my manuscript, you think. I’ll just keep reworking it until there’s absolutely no mistakes.
I often remind my authors of the above aphorism. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Don’t let your obsession to have a flawless manuscript keep you from learning from the experience and pressing on. Don’t keep spending hours combing through your work, searching for typos when that time would be better spent, say, marketing your book or researching your next topic. Yes, of course – do your best to create a book with as few errors as possible. But if that process requires you to continuously review your work over and over, stop.
Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good.
Owner/Editor of Emerging Ink Solutions, avid YA/NA author, adamant supporter of the Oxford Comma, anime and music enthusiast.