4 Gritty Differences Between New Adult and Young Adult Fiction

It seems everybody knows what young adult fiction is, but what about this genre “new adult?” The two genres are actually pretty similar, but here are 4 basic differences between new adult and young adult fiction.

New Adult Versus Young Adult Fiction: Protagonist’s Age

NA and YA novels tell a coming of age tale. The key difference is: of what age? Young adult fiction protagonists are usually teenagers, somewhere between 14 and 17. Their stories focus on overcoming the terrible hurdles of teenage life and learning who they are.

When I wrote the Hang-Ups and Hangovers books, my protagonist, David McCleary, was in his early 20’s. Post college, dealing with relationship and sexual issues. Sticking his story in the young adult genre would be like throwing a grown man in a Chuck E. Cheese ballpit. This was the first check mark for NA.

The Hang-Ups and Hangovers prequel, Chasing Aveda Girls, takes place in David’s college years and that story is basically YA.

New Adult Versus Young Adult Fiction: Emphasis of Sexual Content

Due to the nature of “coming of age” in one’s 20’s, sexuality is a much bigger focus in new adult than young adult fiction; especially the physical descriptions. That’s not to say there isn’t sexuality in young adult, and it doesn’t make NA books de facto “erotica,” nor does it require graphic sex scenes present in every new adult story. While there are sex scenes in some of my books, I don’t write sex scenes for the sake of having sex scenes and being “new adult.” David’s understanding of women and his character growth are handcuffed to his pedestalization of sex.

New adult novel Redheads and Bedspreads by Kyle Milligan

Pretty awesome cover, eh?

On that note I’d just like to say: I don’t care what genre I’m in, I will NEVER have a corny, cheesy, lame-ass book cover of some dude’s abs. Where’s the creativity?

New Adult Versus Young Adult Fiction: Emphasis of Career

In young adult novels, most of the characters don’t usually have a career-oriented mindset. It wouldn’t really be appropriate for their age. NA literature is unique to the brand of confusion that pairs with being 20-something and still having no idea “what you want to be when you grow up.” David constantly struggles with what society believes is the “correct way” to do things. He frowns on the nine-to-five corporate grind on account of his horrible experience working in public accounting and refuses to participate in the rat race.

New Adult Versus Young Adult Fiction: Heavy Themes

There is a strong mix of heavy themes like, rape, sexuality, drugs, depression, etc. in both YA and NA genres. However, like the case of sexual content, new adult fiction plunges deeper into the topics at a much more graphic level. While plenty of adults read young adult novels, the target audience for new adult fiction is typically older.

Interested in new adult books that don’t suck? Check out my latest title, Redheads and Bedspreads!

About the Author Kyle Milligan

I'm Kyle Milligan, I write New Adult Books that don't suck. i.e. The Hang-Ups and Hangovers series. I like to write about the challenges of being a single twenty-something in today's hookup culture. My blog offers Dating Advice For Men.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: