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Is new adult fiction a thing, or are you unsure what it is?

Have you come across books exploring themes of identity, coming-of-age, and navigating relationships during transition and change?

Have you ever wondered why some books seem too mature for the young adult category but not quite fitting for adult fiction?

What is new adult fiction?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of new adult fiction and learn about its unique characteristics, famous authors and series, and the best books to start with. By the end of this post, you’ll better understand the genre and will feel spired to dive into a new world of reading.

Explanation of New Adult Fiction

New adult fiction is a genre that emerged in the late 2000s as a response to the lack of literature for young adults who were transitioning to adulthood. The new adult genre bridges young adult and adult fiction, with protagonists typically between 18 and 30, that is, the gap between teenage readers and an adult audience.

New adult books are often more mature in content than young adult novels and tackle themes like identity, self-discovery, and relationships. The genre has gained popularity recently, with titles like The Fault in Our Stars and Fangirl becoming bestsellers.

As a result, publishers have increased their offerings of new adult books, providing readers with a broader range of choices. With the new adult genre, young and adult readers can enjoy stories that reflect the challenges and experiences of young adulthood.

Brief History of the New Adult Genre

The term New Adult was coined by St. Martin’s Press in 2009. The genre quickly gained popularity, especially among readers in their early twenties.

The books in this genre typically feature protagonists who are college-aged or just entering the workforce, and they explore themes such as self-discovery, coming-of-age, and romantic relationships. New Adult books also often tackle more mature themes than their Young Adult counterparts, such as sexuality, addiction, and mental health.

While the New Adult genre is still relatively new, it has already significantly impacted the publishing industry. Many readers have embraced these books as a way to navigate the complexities of young adulthood.

New Adult Fiction
New Adult Fiction

Characteristics of New Adult Fiction

Some key characteristics of new adult fiction include a focus on relationships, particularly romantic ones, and themes of self-discovery and identity.

Unlike young adult fiction, which often focuses on coming-of-age stories, new adult fiction explores the challenges of transitioning into adulthood, such as leaving home, starting college or a career, and dealing with adult responsibilities.

The genre also tends to have a more mature tone than young adult fiction, with more explicit language and content that reflects the experiences of young adults.

Differences between New Adult and Young Adult Fiction

New adult and young adult fiction are often confused but have distinct differences. While both genres target a young audience, new adult fiction targets readers who are just entering adulthood., typically aged between 18 and 30. In contrast, authors write young adult fiction for a younger audience, typically ranging between 12 to 18 years old.

The main difference between the two genres lies in the themes and subject matter explored. New adult fiction deals with more mature themes, such as sexual exploration, career choices, and finding one’s place in the world. Young adult fiction, on the other hand, focuses more on coming-of-age themes, such as first love, self-discovery, and identity.

Additionally, New adult aiction tends to have more adult language and graphic sexual content. On the other hand, young adult fiction is generally more sanitized.

Key Themes in New Adult Fiction

Romance and Relationships

At the core of the New Adult Genre lies an emphasis on romance and relationships. With passionate, heartfelt love stories taking center stage, these novels delve into the complexities of romantic entanglements, exploring themes such as commitment, communication, and personal growth.

Identity and Self-discovery

As protagonists navigate the uncharted waters of early adulthood, the New Adult Genre delves into themes of identity and self-discovery. Through trials, tribulations, and triumphs, characters uncover their authentic selves, forging their unique paths in the world.

Coming-of-age and Life Transitions

The New Adult Genre is characterized by coming-of-age narratives chronicling pivotal life transitions. From high school graduation and college experiences to career beginnings and newfound independence, these stories capture the essence of personal evolution and self-actualization.

New Adult Fiction
New Adult Fiction

Contemporary Romance

The contemporary romance subgenre is a cornerstone of the new adult genre, featuring realistic and emotionally charged love stories set against the backdrop of modern life. In addition, these novels often tackle contemporary social issues and explore the trials and tribulations of romantic relationships.

Urban Fantasy

Delving into the realm of the fantastical, urban fantasy novels within the new adult genre weave supernatural elements into contemporary settings. With complex protagonists, intricate world-building, and compelling storylines, these novels offer an enchanting escape from the mundane.

Dystopian and Science Fiction

The dystopian and science fiction subgenres within the new adult genre transport readers to futuristic and alternate realities. Often blending elements of suspense and thriller, these novels captivate readers with heart-pounding twists and turns. With thought-provoking themes and imaginative storytelling, these novels offer a compelling exploration of societal issues and the human condition.

Paranormal New Adult Fiction

One of the most popular subgenres is Paranormal New Adult, which features supernatural elements such as ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and witches. This subgenre appeals to readers who enjoy romance, fantasy, and suspense.

Diversity in New Adult Fiction

Diversity and representation in literature are more important than ever, and new adult fiction is no exception. As a genre that tackles the transition from adolescence to adulthood, including diverse voices and experiences is crucial.

Examples of diverse new adult fiction include The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, featuring a protagonist with autism, and Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, a queer love story involving a biracial First Son.

These novels offer fresh and authentic perspectives that resonate with readers. new adult fiction needs to continue to prioritize representation to reflect the diverse world we live inaccurately.

As protagonists navigate the uncharted waters of early adulthood, the New Adult Genre delves into themes of identity and self-discovery.

New Adult Fiction and Sexual Content

New adult fiction is a genre that often explores the complexities of young adulthood, including sexual relationships. The portrayal of sexuality in New Adult fiction can vary widely, from explicit descriptions to more subtle allusions. Some readers may find this content appealing, while others may criticize the use of sexual content in the genre.

Critics argue that the depiction of sex in new adult fiction can be gratuitous or unrealistic, perpetuating harmful stereotypes and expectations. Additionally, some worry that this emphasis on sex can distract from the other important themes and experiences the genre seeks to explore.

However, defenders of sexual content in new adult fiction point out that young adulthood is a time of sexual exploration and self-discovery. By depicting sexual experiences and relationships nuanced and thoughtfully, the genre can provide valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities of this stage of life.

Ultimately, some readers may prefer novels that explore sexual themes in a frank and realistic way. In contrast, others may prefer stories that focus on different aspects of young adulthood. Regardless, sexual content in new adult fiction is likely to remain a topic of discussion and debate within the genre.

Notable New Adult Books

Some of the most notable and best-selling new adult fiction books since 2009 are:

  • The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (2012): 10 million copies sold
  • Beautiful Disaster, by Jamie McGuire (2011): 8 million copies sold
  • The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne (2016): 6 million copies sold
  • The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang (2017): 4 million copies sold
  • Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston (2019): 3 million copies sold

These new adult fiction books have all been incredibly popular with readers and have helped shape the new adult genre. They are stories that deal with the complex issues that young adults face. They are also relatable and have helped readers feel less alone in their struggles.

The Fault in Our Stars is an emotionally charged novel that tells the story of two young teenagers who fall in love after meeting at a cancer support group. Hazel, who is battling terminal thyroid cancer, and Augustus, who has osteosarcoma, must navigate the challenges of their illnesses and their relationship. This heartwarming and heartbreaking book explores themes of love, loss, and the enduring power of hope.

Beautiful Disaster follows the story of Travis Maddox, a bad boy with a dangerous reputation, and Abby Abernathy, a good girl who is trying to find her place in the world. Despite their differences, they are drawn to each other and must learn to trust one another in order to find happiness. This passionate and intense love story will leave a lasting impact on readers.

The Hating Game is a delightful enemies-to-lovers tale that follows Lucy Hutton, a determined executive, and Joshua Templeman, an arrogant colleague who never misses a chance to get on her nerves. When they’re thrown together for a work project, their mutual loathing is put to the test, leading to a funny and heartwarming story of love and self-discovery.

The Kiss Quotient is a charming tale of self-discovery and acceptance. Stella Lane, a successful econometrician, is struggling with her lack of social skills and hires a male escort, Michael Phan, to teach her how to kiss and become more confident. The book explores themes of love, personal growth, and discovering one’s true self.

Red, White & Royal Blue tells the story of Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the President of the United States, and Henry, the Prince of England. When they are forced to pretend to be in a relationship to avoid a political scandal, they begin to develop real feelings for each other. The book is a heartwarming and humorous tale that explores themes of love, family, and the complexities of politics.

The Future of New Adult Fiction

New adult fiction is relatively new, so it’s difficult to predict where it’s headed. However, we can see some trends emerging. As the genre evolves, we may see more diverse characters, more exploration of contemporary issues, and more experimentation with genre-bending.

We may also see a greater emphasis on representation and inclusivity. Whatever the future holds for new adult fiction, it’s clear that this genre has captured the attention of audiences looking for stories that serve as models for their future experiences as they transition from adolescence to adulthood.

As the audience for new adult fiction continues to grow, it’s clear that this genre has a bright future. As readers who grew up with Young adult novels seek more mature themes and experiences in their reading material, New adult fiction offers the perfect next step.


New adult fiction is a genre that has quickly gained popularity and significantly impacted the publishing industry. In addition, the emergence of the new adult genre has provided readers with a broader range of choices, catering to young adults transitioning to adulthood.

The new adult fiction audience will continue to grow as readers seek more mature themes and experiences in their reading material. With its exciting potential, the future of new adult fiction is undoubtedly bright.