Betwixt and Between: New Adult Fiction | Collection Development, September 1, 2015

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Depending on whom you talk to, new adult (NA)—a genre that includes books that are a step up from YA and that has also been referred to as upper YA, crossover fiction, coming-of-age fiction, and mature YA—is either one of the most loved or fiercely hated trends to emerge this decade. Many decry NA as a mere marketing ploy, while others are excited that an overlooked demographic is finally getting its share of the spotlight. Whichever way you decide to look at it, NA seems to be here to stay.

One of the largest misconceptions about NA is that it’s all about sex (a misconception I will admit I once shared). Truth be told, there are more steamy scenes in the genre’s books than in YA titles in general, but that is likely because of the age difference between the audiences. College-age adults are more apt to have sex than 15-year-olds. Just because it’s mentioned in the book, though, doesn’t mean it’s described in graphic detail à la E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey. Sex might occur in NA books but not be described, it might be related vividly, or it might not happen at all. NA has much more to offer then sex; it portrays the transitioning to adulthood that takes place post–high school.

NA protagonists are generally aged 18 to 26 and are experiencing one or more of the following for the first time: college, a full-time job, military deployment, a serious relationship, moving away from home, etc. It’s a bittersweet time, and NA authors try to capture the struggles and joys that come with transitioning to that next stage of life. Other issues that are addressed include depression, suicide, drug abuse, identity, sexuality, bullying, incest, fear of failure, independence, and mental illness, many of which are often addressed in YA materials.

Developing a new adult collection

This genre continues to skyrocket in popularity thanks to self-publishing and ebooks. As more titles crack the New York Times best sellers lists and word of mouth grows, the demand for related titles increases as well. While the themes and content aren’t all brand new, the demand is. For years, Francesca Lia Block (author of the Weetzie Bat series) dominated the scene before anyone knew what to call it. Coming-of-age stories have always been around, but they haven’t been as prevalent or as “steamy.” The books appeal to more than their intended audience; just as with the Harry Potter and “Hunger Games” titles, NA works have mass appeal among teens and adults.

Most patrons may not know what NA is, but they can describe what they want. Some of the most important authors to familiarize yourself with are Colleen Hoover, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Cora Carmack, Jamie McGuire, Jessica Sorenson, and Tammara Webber. They have amassed huge followings and on average write several books a year each. The big trend in NA is to write trilogies or series—there aren’t many stand-alone titles. While this genre is wildly popular, it is not one that libraries or bookstores house in separate sections; titles are usually shelved in adult fiction or romance and occasionally in YA fiction. Displays, book lists, and bookmarks are vital tools to help market your growing new adult collection to patrons. An essential aid for librarians is the NA website naalley.com, which hosts informative blog posts, resources, book lists, and more.

While NA has more to offer than just romance—it includes general fiction, paranormal, fantasy, and more—this article eschews books in those subgenres because they are not as popular. The entries below include the first book in major trilogies and series (purchase entire series, but when in doubt start with book one), a few oldies but goodies, and several hot stand-alones. Starred (redstar) titles are essential purchases for most collections.

Erin Cataldi is Teen and Adult Reference Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch, Johnson County Public Library, Franklin, IN, as well as a Readers’ Advisory Adjunct Professor at IUPUI (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis). She has been reviewing audiobooks for LJ since 2012. In her spare time, she co-organizes the annual Indianapolis Literary Pub Crawl and is the mother to four cats. She blogs at barbarianlibrarian1.blogspot.com

Fiction

Amelie, Fisher. Vain. Fisher Amelie. (Seven Deadly, Bk. 1). 2013. 390p. ISBN 9780988812512. pap. $14.99. F

After indulging in a life of vanity and vice, Sophie must serve a six-month sentence working at an orphanage in Africa, at which she meets Ian. For the first time in her life, Sophie’s looks or possessions are not what define her. Through the children, she learns to appreciate and never to take it for granted.

August, Noelle. Boomerang. Morrow. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780062331069. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062331076. rom

In this cute, funny read, two recent college grads wake up naked in bed, hungover, and confused. Little do they realize that they are also both new interns at an online dating company. They must put their sexual sparks aside and play ball to see who wants the job most. (LJ 7/14)

Block, Francesca Lia. Weetzie Bat. Harper Teen. (Weetzie Bat, Bk. 1). 1989. ISBN 9780060205348. pap. $12.95; ebk. ISBN 9780061971792. F

Weetzie and her best friend, Dirk, deal with the ramifications of Weetzie being granted three wishes in a Los Angeles–set debut novel that touches on issues such as blended families, premarital sex, and AIDS.

Boyd, Natasha. Deep Blue Eternity. Natasha Boyd. 2015. 444p. ISBN 9780989492584. pap. $14.99; ebk. available. F

On the run, troubled Libby thinks that a secluded cottage is the perfect place to hide. It turns out that Tom, who has struggles of his own, is also living there, and when the two meet, deep emotions are unleashed.

Cameron, Chelsea M. My Favorite Mistake. HQN: Harlequin. (My Favorite Mistake, Bk. 1). 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780373778294. pap. $11.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460318102. rom

Taylor’s new college roommate is an attractive, guitar-playing wild man, and she can’t decide if she would rather kiss him or kick him. When he proposes a bet that would lead to his moving out and leaving her alone, Taylor is game.

redstarCarmack, Cora. Losing It. Morrow. (Losing It, Bk. 1). 2013. 280p. ISBN 9780062273246. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062273253. rom

Embarrassed that she is about to graduate college with her virginity intact, Bliss decides to cut her losses and lose it as quickly as possible. Her plan backfires when she freaks out and leaves a beautiful man alone and naked in her bed. When she arrives at class she discovers that the man is her new professor.

Crownover, Jay. Rule. Morrow. (Marked Men, Bk. 1). 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780062302403. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062302373. rom

Shaw knew she wanted Rule from the moment she saw him. Wild, tattooed, and unpredictable, he is everything a good girl like her should avoid. Rule is turned off by the snobby perfect princess, but after a night of too many drinks, flirtations, and spilled secrets, they find themselves entwined.

Dawn, Nyrae. Charade. CreateSpace. (Games, Bk. 1). 2012. 344p. ISBN 9781480213982. pap. $9.99; ebk. available. rom

Cheyenne needs a fake boyfriend, and Colt needs money to take care of his mom, so they agree to work together. Soon they’re losing themselves in each other, but the charades keep piling up. The more they play the game, the more they realize it’s the only real thing they have.

Douglas, Penelope. Bully. Piatkus. (Fall Away, Bk. 1). 2014. 337p. ISBN 9780451477101.pap. $8.99; ebk. ISBN 9780698180871. f

Jared and Tatum were once best friends, until out of nowhere Jared became a cruel boy hell-bent on making Tate’s life a nightmare. Tate finally wears down Jared’s façade as a bully and starts to see him as a lonely boy who, in dealing with his own pain, chooses to lash out and hurt others.

ljx150901webcd7redstarEvans, Katy. Real. Gallery. (Real, Bk. 1). 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781476755595. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781476755434. rom

While at an underground boxing match, Brooke encounters Remington Tate. He is instantly smitten with her and hires her as a sports therapist to keep his perfectly sculpted body in working order. The sexual tension mounts and will soon be tested to the limits. Is it just lust, or is it real love? ( LJ 8/13)

redstarGlines, Abbi. Fallen Too Far. Atria. (Rosemary Beach, Bk. 1). 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781476775982. pap. $15; ebk ISBN 9781476775999. rom

Step-siblings Rush, the privileged son of a rock star, and Blair, a tough country girl, find themselves thrown together. When their parents take off for Paris, the pair take an immediate dislike to each other. Yet as the weeks pass, an undeniable chemistry builds between them.

redstarHoover, Colleen. Hopeless. Atria. 2012. 488p. ISBN 9781476743554. pap. $15; ebk. available. f

Sky convinces her mom to let her complete her senior year in a public school, where she encounters sultry, hot rebel Holder. The two form an instant connection. While getting to know Holder, however, Sky realizes that he’s holding something back, and when she finds out what it is, her life is shattered.

Jordan, Sophie. Foreplay. Morrow. (Ivy Chronicles, Bk. 1). 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780062279873. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062279880. erotica

Pepper, hopelessly smitten with her best friend’s brother, wants to wow him in the bedroom. She gets pointers from her sexy yet troubled friend, but what starts off as lessons in attraction and bedroom technique are soon much more. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 11/1/13)

Kennedy, Elle. The Deal. CreateSpace.(Off-Campus, Bk. 1). 2015. 340p. ISBN 9781508706250. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 2940151718219. rom

College student Hannah has fallen for a bad boy. When Garret agrees to go on a pretend date with her to make her crush jealous, the sparks that fly turn out to be not so pretend.

redstarLynn, J. Frigid. Spencer Hill Contemporary. (Frigid, Bk. 1). 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781939392756. pap. $9.95; ebk. ISBN 9781939392749. rom

Sydney has suddenly developed feelings for Kyler, her best friend since childhood. Sydney is scared to let him how she feels because he is a bit of a womanizer. While the two are stranded at a swanky ski resort, their feelings surface and the cold winds can’t stop their red hot romance. Lynn is a pen name of author Jennifer L. Armentrout.

redstarMcAdams, Molly. Taking Chances. Morrow. (Taking Chances, Bk. 1). 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780062267689. pap. $14.99; ebk ISBN 9780062267672. rom

Excited to escape her strict father, Harper goes off to college and soon finds herself torn in two as she falls madly in love with both her new boyfriend and her roommate’s hot brother. Both would do anything for her, including take a step back, if it would make her happy.

ljx150901webcd8redstarMcGuire, Jamie. Beautiful Disaster. Atria.(Beautiful Disaster, Bk. 1). 2012. 432p. ISBN 9781476712048. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781476712055. rom

Abby goes away to college and meets huge, tattoo-covered, fist-throwing Travis “Mad Dog” Maddox, who goes from bagging one or two girls a night to spending all his free time with Abby. Soon people on campus are talking: Has Abby tamed Travis?

McLean, Jay. Where the Road Takes Me. Skyscape. 2015. 324p. ISBN 9781477849408. pap. $9.99. rom

Chloe and Blake are damaged goods. Chloe protects herself from being hurt again by not letting anyone near. Blake, meanwhile, seems to have it all, but attainment of his hopes and dreams means hiding the wreck he is inside. When Blake protects Chloe on what could be the worst night of her life, a relationship starts that could save them both.

Park, Jessica. Flat Out Love. Skyscape.(Flat Out Love, Bk. 1). 2012. 351p. ISBN 9781477810255. pap. $12.95. f

Julie, a young student, moved to Boston for her freshman year of college, without a place to live. She goes to live with one of her mother’s friends and finds herself growing closer to this strange, eccentric family, especially brothers Matt and Finn.

Raeder, Leah. Unteachable. Atria. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781476786407. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781476786414. erotica

Maise hooks up with a man with whom she shared intense, passionate chemistry the summer before her senior year of high school. When she arrives to class she discovers that her summer hookup is the new film teacher. Can they keep their hands off each other and stop their attraction from showing?

Rayven, Leisa. Bad Romeo. Griffin: St. Martin’s. (Starcrossed, Bk. 1). 2014. 416p. ISBN 9781250063274. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466868373. rom

Cassie and Ethan were thrown together as the stars of their campus production of Romeo and Juliet. In real life, the romance that ensued ended in a broken heart for Cassie. Now they’re performing the same roles on Broadway, and Cassie is faced with a decision—a complicated relationship can be exciting, but is it worth the risk of being hurt again? (LJ Xpress Reviews, 10/31/14)

ljx150901webcd1redstarRedmerski, J.A. The Edge of Never. Forever: Grand Central. (Edge of Never, Bk. 1). 2013. 496p. ISBN 9781455548989. pap. $14; ebk. ISBN 9781455548996. f

Fed up with her life, Camryn hops on a Greyhound bus going anywhere and encounters Andrew, who is also fleeing from reality. Camryn is determined not to let her walls down, but Andrew is determined to make her live a little. He may not have her best interests at heart, however.

Ryan, Kaylee. Just Say When. Kaylee Ryan. 2015. 240p. ISBN 9780986180033. pap. $9.99; ebk. ISBN 2940151473569. rom

Ava is in love with her older brother’s best friend, Nate, but she believes that he sees her as a little sister. Nate, meanwhile, is hiding the strong feelings he has for Ava. Should they be together, risking the ire of Ava’s brother?

Sheridan, Mia. Archer’s Voice. CreateSpace.(Sign of Love, Bk. 1). 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781495390906. pap. $12.99; ebk. ISBN 2940046309379. f

Bree arrives in the sleepy lakeside town of Pelion, ME, hoping to find the peace she needs to leave her past behind. She immediately meets Archer, an isolated man who holds a secret of his own. His love could be the key to her freedom.

Smirnova, Lola. Twisted. CreateSpace. 2014. 314p. ISBN 9781496031013. pap. $9.99. f

A fictionalized account of what it takes to “make a living” working in the post-Soviet Ukrainian sex trade. Julie and her two sisters, desperate for work, try their hand at the sex industry. The novel chronicles Julie’s descent into greed and drug addiction over the course of a year. Compelling and dark.

redstarSorensen, Jessica. The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden. Forever: Grand Central. (Coincidence, Bk. 1). 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781455576500. pap. $12; ebk. ISBN 9781455576494. rom

Kayden has learned to suffer in silence. Just when he thinks that it all might end, a young woman named Callie rescues him. When they find themselves at the same college, Kayden decides he must get to know the angel who saved his life, but Callie is determined not to let anyone get too close.

redstarStephens, S.C. Thoughtless. Gallery. (Thoughtless, Bk. 1). 2012. 544p. ISBN 9781476717470. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781476717494. rom

Kiera’s boyfriend is everything she’s ever wanted in a man. When an unexpected obligation forces them apart, Kiera turns to a local rock star for comfort and support. What starts as a shoulder to cry on quickly blossoms into something else, and on one eventful night everything changes.

Tucker, K.A. Ten Tiny Breaths. Atria. (Ten Tiny Breaths, Bk. 1). 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781476740324. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781476740331. rom

After losing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend in a horrific car wreck, Kacey is determined to leave her past behind. Starting life anew in Miami with her sister is challenging but nothing they can’t handle. That is, until they meet their mysterious and hunky neighbor.


ljx150901webcd9redstarWebber, Tammara. Easy. Berkley. (Contours of the Heart, Bk. 1). 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780425266748. pap. $15; ebk. 9781101618011. f

Two months into college, Jacqueline is single, friendless, and struggling in class. Leaving a party, she is assaulted by one of her ex’s friends and is rescued by a stranger who just happens to be in the right place at the right time. Whom can she really trust?

redstarYoung, Samantha. On Dublin Street. NAL. (On Dublin Street, Bk. 1). 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780451419705. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101623497. rom

Reserved and distant Jocelyn moves into a new flat and finds it difficult to keep her distance from her roommate’s hot older brother, Braden. He seems determined to break down her defenses and get into her knickers, because he is used to getting what he wants.

Nonfiction

Knisley, Lucy. An Age of License. Fantagraphics. 2014. 208p. ISBN 9781606997680. pap. $19.99. memoir

A travel memoir told in comic format recounts author Knisley’s charming adventures abroad. Illustrating her attempts at love, aspirations for the future, and the experiences to be gained while traveling, the graphic novel also explores anxieties, revelations, self-worth, and what love means to the author. (LJ 9/15/14)

WEBSITES

Dear Author; dearauthor.com/tag/new-adult

Chock-full of upcoming NA releases and reviews. A great way to stay on top of what is coming out.

NA Alley; naalley.com

Reviews, informative blog posts, resources, and trends. The most comprehensive resource on the Internet for all things NA. 

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Comments

  1. Vicky Coffin says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article! I am in charge of ordering books for the Leisure Reading collection at a university library, and this information is so very helpful!