Book Pet Peeves: New Adult Books

Book Pet Peeves is a feature where I do a mini-rant about bookish things that annoy me. Feel free to join in!


I was initially excited at the idea of New Adult books. I still really like the idea. As someone who’s trying to figure out what to do with my life, I like the idea of reading about others who are making similar decisions.  Unfortunately that’s not really what New Adult has turned out to be.

This is a sampling of what you find labeled “New Adult” on Goodreads.

New Adult 1

New Adult 2

That all looks the exact same: romance or borderline romantic erotica. How boring is that?

Yes, I understand that this is only a small portion of New Adult books but the theme is very clear.  There’s nothing wrong with those books per se. I know people read them and they sell very well. I was really hoping for more variety with the books.

I’m still holding out a bit of hope that there will be some variety with New Adult books but I’m not holding my breath for it.


25 thoughts on “Book Pet Peeves: New Adult Books

  1. i keep hoping to see some more books that don’t use the same tropes – sexual assult (attempted or actually occuring); sexual abuse as a child; abusive partner etc…that seems to be the mainstay of the genre as it stands right now

    you might enjoy Jennifer Echol’s new book – I think it falls into this genre (set after high school graduation) – but pretty enjoyable – called Dirty Little Secret (I think it is released in June)

  2. I’ll admit that I haven’t read much New Adult… but I guess I don’t see the point in any of it. I mean, YES there needs to be books for people in the 18-23 age range… but do they all have to look like semi-erotica novels? I mean, I really don’t mind sex in them – most people at that age begin exploring it in some form or fashion, so I’m not naieve enough to think it doesn’t belong. But why not have the same genres, themes, etc as they do for YA and Adult fiction? Like you said… I’m sure they do, but looking at all those covers… it doesn’t seem like there’s tons of variety out there!

  3. I so feel you on this one!! All the book covers are exactly the same!! And the topics are mostly the same too. I was so excited when I first heard about New Adult. I thought “wow this is going to be the young adult books I love, but about college aged people and with a little more edge!!” That is not what I got… instead I got Beautiful DIsaster-type books where the female is super lame and weak and the guy is supposedly a boad boy/psycho/womanizer. BORING!!! I don’t want to read erotica, I don’t want to read about creepy relationships. I want to read something about someone in college who has a unique, fun, cool story. Something I can relate to. So many awesome memories are made in college, why can’t someone write about them??

    • You’re completely right, Michelle! There are way too many unhealthy relationships in the NA market. Why can’t we have some normal relationships?!

  4. Alison, I have also come to the conclusion that this particular categorization isn’t for me – at least not until the category is expanded (and the books are just generally better written). I would recommend Easy, by Tammara Webber, which is a good read, although it is the same sort of book as all of the books posted above. I also just finished Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, which could be categorized NA, but it is definitely NOT a plain vanilla bad boy/good girl contemporary romance. It’s worth a look (and the cover doesn’t look anything like the covers you’ve posted above).

    There are two things that are really disappointing (to me) about this categorization. First, the fangirling is off the charts for these books. Many of them are absolutely horribly written, with random tense changes, homonym abuse, words that are used incorrectly, and general bad grammar – and yet they will have hundreds of five star reviews on GR and amazon. Second, though, is the slut-shaming that is the heart of so many of them. There is a near universal good girl/bad girl dichotomy, with the good girl winning the heart of the hot bad boy and all of the other girls being reduced to the single characteristic of: sluttiness. Girls who are vibrantly and self-confidently sexual beings are basically treated as sexual performing seals for the pleasure of the boys who use them and toss them away. The idea that a girl could be smart, funny, self-confident, ambitious, worthy of being loved AND sexually active is totally non-existent. The fact that the books are written by women is extremely disappointing.

    • Thanks for the recs!

      Those are two great points, Christine. It’s really upsetting that those are pretty much the only girls being produced in NA fiction.

  5. I can totally see that (and lmao at the cover with the guy’s hands covering the girls boobs… That’s just awkward). While I understand that New Adult books can have a little more sexual content considering we’re moving beyond the teenage years, I don’t think that’s what MOST of these New Adult books should be about. I always tell the story about how when I was in college, I didn’t know what to read and wanted something EXACTLY like new adult so badly because I didn’t read YA at the time and all the adult books had people who had their lives too figured out already. New Adult would be perfect….. But there are so many that seem like they’re just adult stories for younger ages. I’m not saying that’s BAD, but I would like to see a little more of people trying to figure out college or the working world and the romance being a part of that. I think I just wanted to relate to them more and so far of the ones I’ve read, not so much what I was looking for. I’ve passed on a lot of NA lit because they do seem like they’re just more sexually-charged or dealing with specific issues instead of being more of a blanket new-adult-hey-I-can-relate-type of book.

    • Yes, yes! I totally agree. There’s nothing wrong with those type of story lines. I just have a problem when that’s the ONLY type of story line you find in NA. Where are the book with protagonists who have a hard time finding work, are unsure of what to do in school, or all the other type of problems people our age deal with?

  6. I have similar issues with the direction YA seems to be heading in terms of the types of characters portrayed and plot lines. I have the feeling that the New Adult category was created as a response to the popularity of contemporary romance, and it’s just a way to add sex to YA novels.

    As an author, I was tempted to write New Adult when I first heard about it because it meant I could focus on older characters, but now I’m afraid to because I feel that NA is just another label for borderline erotica.

    • I definitely feel that way too.

      I would love to read a legitimate New Adult book where the characters deal with the problems people my age are dealing with and no erotica in sight.

  7. I completely agree! I’ve read a few New Adult novels and just can’t get past the extreme steaminess (to the point where plot falls to the wayside and the book is left with erotica). You should definitely check out Flat-Out Love, though. I loved that book.

  8. I am a huge fan of romance novels (I have a penchant for those trashy Silhouette Intimate Moments ones, ha!), but am really not feeling the majority of the NA that’s been released thus far. If I want romance and smut, I’ll read an actual romance novel, you know?

    However, Game. Set. Match. is a book I just read that falls into the NA category. It’s based around the sport of tennis, and has three main female characters that I personally liked reading about. There is sex mentioned, but it’s by far NOT the point. And while all three girls have some sort of romantic thing going on with the three main guys, the book is much more focused on their personal journeys. Anyway, all that is to say that I’d recommend it if you’re looking for NA that isn’t all sex!

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  11. My, I’m late to this post, but I still couldn’t agree more! I would love to branch out from just reviewing Young Adult to New Adult as well, but there are sexual scenes in almost every book I have attempted to try out. It’s rather disappointing since I can’t recommend something to other people that I wouldn’t even read. Hopefully there will be more variety in later months (or sooner!)

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