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
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Owner/Editor of Emerging Ink Solutions, avid YA/NA author, adamant supporter of the Oxford Comma, anime and music enthusiast.