Whenever I accidentally stumble upon a book which has a 20-something main character, I get very excited. I loved that April May in Hank Green’s An Absolutely Remarkable Thing had to navigate things like shit first jobs and living situations.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love YA.
It makes up about 75% of what I read. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving YA. Give me a contemporary any day of the week and I’ll happily devour it in one sitting (I don’t know what you mean… this has never happened …)
Sometimes I’m perfectly happy to revisit my teen years, and it’s fun to see glimpses of what I was like at that age. The adventures, the worries, the intense friendships of school, the blossoms of first relationships, and the subsequent breakdown of them. It’s a part of my reading that I have absolutely no plan in changing. But, just sometimes, I catch myself thinking that I want older characters.
“Well just go and read some adult books, Jaz. That’s a thing”
I hear you anonymous voice in the distance. I really do. The thing is, I’ve tried to read books with adult main characters. And honestly, it’s just not for me. Maybe it will be in the future? Who knows? But right now, as a 24-year-old, those characters don’t speak to me … at all. For lack of a better word, and in also trying to not offend a whole span of genres, I find them hard to read, not as engaging, and frankly a little boring.
Adult books don’t focus on mid-20s characters who are starting their very first ‘real person job’. They focus on adultier-adults (lol), who have (or act more like they have) their shit together.
I want more New Adult books. I want characters that are in their 20s and have to think about boring things for the first time like rent and income and when they’re going to schedule their weekly shop. I want characters who chat about sex with their friends and it not be a big deal. I want characters that don’t rely on their parents. I want characters that live with their friends, their partners. I want characters that live at home and are trying to work out how to afford to move out. I want characters that are navigating their way through jobs and trying to work out where their career is going. I want characters that are are happy in their sexuality, and characters that are still navigating it. I want to read about the phase of adulthood that I’m in.
I’m not sixteen anymore, but I’m definitely not a settled middle aged woman. I want to read other peoples’ experiences of how they navigate their 20s. I love YA and everything it isn’t afraid to talk about, but it is a bit tiring having to mentally age the characters a good five or ten years when I read one.
But that isn’t YA’s fault. YA books aren’t intended for readers in their mid-20s. Vicky at Vicky Who Reads also spoke about this topic, and she made a really good point that a space designed for teenagers is slowly being taken over by adults. YA publishers know that a lot of their readers aren’t actually teenagers, and therefore cater to it and change their books accordingly. This sucks.
I read YA partly because there’s a lack of New Adult books.
I hope this genre gets bigger within publishing. As this industry moves forward, I’m hoping that New Adult will similarly get pushed forward. We’re not in the times of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner anymore. The YA publishing industry is ever changing, and the face of YA is constantly shifting and morphing into new things. I hope that New Adult gets the recognition it deserves – both within publishing, and with shelf space in bookstores. I guess all we can do is wave our hands at everyone, and make it clear that this is something we want as readers.
*waves frantically at publishers* MORE NEW ADULT BOOKS PLS!
I know that YA books are vast, and there are some characters that can be really mature for a young age. I just want to see more of people my age in stories that are as engaging and exciting as those found in YA.
If this wasn’t clear, please recommend me any New Adult books you love in the comments! What are your thoughts on this? Do you think we need more New Adult Books? What do you think about people that aren’t teens reading YA? Do you think the space is being taken away from teenagers?