Monday, May 6, 2013

Getting Real About New Adult

As the title makes clear, today's post is concerning the 'New Adult' genre.

Sometimes I don't know where to start with this genre because there's a lot that can be said about it. Sometimes my friends ask me what New Adult means as a book genre and sometimes I don't have an answer for them except that they typically all have the same storyline and are about emerging adults, typically college age and older, experiencing sex.

I've had the last freaking straw with all the bullshit.

Maybe it's just me. Personally I enjoy reading books that have this thing called...A PLOT. I also enjoy reading things that aren't just focused on the sex. I feel there are so many New Adult novels that focus on the sexual encounters of the characters and the authors forget that there should be a plot, an adventure, some sort of drama. Take the scope of the Young Adult genre, there are so many subcategories! Paranormal/romance/horror/dystopian/contemporary/--the list goes on. All New Adult novels feel the same to me. Actually, I will be more specific here: all New Adult titles that are contemporary novels feel the same. I have yet to see a major expansion of New Adult into paranormal/romance/dystopian, etc. I will get to that point later in this post.

I've even written an equation about NA: broken character with some bad experience + smooth talking man whore (or some guy along the likes of a 'bad boy' or the 'perfect guy') + sex = New Adult contemporary novels. IT IS ALWAYS THE SAME.

For one, the lead female characters in those types of books need to grow a freaking backbone and learn that THEY CAN LIVE WITHOUT A MAN. Yes, I understand that this is fiction and romance can happen but honestly, these books aren't even about love. They are all about lust, lust, and more lust. Get over yourself! I can't read novels where the female lead can't kick ass once in awhile. Nope. I will drop that novel right there and not bother to ever read it again.

Typically these lead female characters have some sort of secret or traumatic experience from their past that defines them. Excuse me, I would like to point something out here. Yes, bad things happen but I do not think a character's entire identity should be defined by whatever happened to them. The character should grow, learn, cope, whatever to be a well developed character and not sit around and let whatever happened change them and make them a flat character. When character growth does not take place you know what happens? Weak characters happen because BAM the lead guy character enters the scene and suddenly he's capable of changing her and fixing her to be better like she was incapable of surviving until he came along. The fact that the lead heroine, a supposed 'great character', needs to rely on a man to feel better about herself, to feel okay with what happened, and need a man to move on in her life just makes for a pathetic, underdeveloped, and immature character in my opinion. Believe it or not, just because its fiction doesn't mean that there shouldn't be strong female leads who can be independent and in love. Yeah, that is actually possible because last I checked this was the 21st century.

Touching on the subject of traumatic experiences or secrets the lead character hides, I unfortunately see in some NA Contemp novels the almost romanticizing of sexual assaults. There is nothing remotely okay with that on any level. It honestly disgusts me how in some of these NA novels, that instead of the character (typically a female lead this happens to), getting therapy or involving the justice system, they just go about their days until that ONE SPECIAL DUDE comes along and makes it all better and also has amazing sex. Excuse me, I thought the issue was that the female character was afraid of men considering what happened to her but nooooo just this one perfect guy comes along and fixes it all, banishing all her fears away like they never existed. That's not real at all. Sexual assault is NOT a joke and should never be taken lightly, even if being written about in novels.

Now moving on to the typical male lead in a typical NA contemp novel...SERIOUSLY?! Are we being freaking serious right now? Most of these male leads think they're hot-shots, big, bad, and bold; always bragging about their bad boy status and how many girls they've slept with. How would ANY female lead be attracted to that? Um hello, STD's?! Pregnancy? Yes, it's fiction but considering that Contemps are grounded in REALITY, let's try to be a bit realistic here. There is a big difference between a 'bad boy' and a tortured character. Just because he may have had a bad experience doesn't mean he should turn into a man-slut. That is a poor excuse, creates a weak character foundation, and does not create a tortured character with depth. No, there is hardly any depth there. But if you're not looking for character depth then keep reading whatever you want and ignore my opinions here.

Concerning other types of New Adult such as New Adult Fantasy/paranormal/adventure/dystopian etc, I see a significant less amount of but I do come across books that are New Adult fantasy, like The Secret World of Alaina Downs by Rebecca Rynecki just as an example. I feel New Adult novels that are not Contemps have more of this thing called, oh I don't know...a plot! There may or may not be sex in these genre reads but at least the reader gets to go on an adventure with the characters and its not just some pointless read about people having a lusty pathetic relationship.

If NA Contemps are what you enjoy reading then by all means, go forth and read them, but I feel like the NA genre is so restricted in what it has to offer right now. It's clear I've labeled Chosen as a New Adult Paranormal novel. I felt that labeling it NA people might have a certain perception of what to expect when they pick up the novel to read. I will say this right now: Chosen is heavily weighted in the paranormal plot and less so much in the crazy lust like a typical NA. Yes, there is ROMANCE in Chosen but there is a huge different between lust and romance. If that's not what you're looking to read then don't read my book. The story is about a girl who has to save the world, deal, cope, grow up, learn, be independent and the whole lot and I'm sorry but the lead character of Chosen has her priorities straight. Just because she likes a guy doesn't mean there is the need for her to sleep with him on every freaking page of the story. Just saying.

So why did I label Chosen as a New Adult? I decided to put it in that genre because of the strong language that is not exactly suitable for the Young Adult genre. There are also mature themes and yes, some intimate times between some characters. I want readers to know that there is more to the New Adult genre than what is out there. Contemporary literature is huge right now, which is fine, but just know that there are different types of New Adult and I'm one, of a group of those brave authors, branching out in the genre to expand it.

Be open minded to other authors and their styles. Don't expect every New Adult novel to be about sex unless you're reading a contemporary one then yeah, most likely expect a weak character, some man-slut, and sex. That's pretty much how they all go. Call me harsh but that's how I see it.

Embrace change.

1 comment:

  1. I just read one last night, after reading your blog and I have to say after reading your post, I was disillusioned to the story - because you nailed it. I felt cookie-cuttered. Sucky. But great point.