So, I've seen a lot of people who are very excited about the prospect of there being a "new adult" genre in bookstores as some kind of extension of YA, meant to cover a supposed age gap between the under-18 YA genre and 20-somethings.
My reaction has been decidedly negative, because I don't see that the category is necessary. I think it's pure marketing, and I think it's going to cause problems for authors who get caught up in it. I think it's going to cause actual YA readers to be deprived of books that are meant for them because "new" adult can afford to be sexier. I think it's going to cause adult books to be wrongly revised or aged down, giving YA readers books that weren't really written for them and thus books that may not be what they deserve and may not respect them completely.
More than that, it worries me that this "new" adult, this sort of adult-lite genre is focused on women. That it's females telling other females of a certain age that we're still not adults. Even when we live independently and support ourselves economically, we're still not really adult yet. Even when we're moving up in our careers and doing incredible things, we're STILL NOT FULLY ADULT. Because we're "new" adult.
It worries me that this "new" adult is targeted toward a largely female audience and touched up with female sensibilities, with covers and stories meant to be targeted toward women.
And it has my feminist alarm bells going off. For centuries and centuries, women were basically considered slightly larger children who the head the house - the father/husband - was expected to rule over. Husbands were given varying degrees of control over their wives, and were sometimes expected to spank them as they would spank children for misbehaving. Women were considered unfit, naive, innocent, unworldly because of their gender. Unlike men who could be trusted to handle the serious adult things of the world. Things like voting or owning land or being trusted to go outside with an escort.
So anything that tells me that I'm more immature and hints that it's because I'm female that I'm supposed to be lost or not settled or insecure or less certain of myself than a man or a person older than me really gets me angry.
I'm not seeing a lot of books targeted towards males of the same age, nor male sensibilities. I'm not seeing a lot of 22-26 year old men jumping on the bandwagon and agreeing that they're still very immature and don't know their place in the world.
I see a bunch of young women who apparently want to be branded as slightly larger children just because they like a certain genre.
Let's get this straight. If you're an adult who reads YA, that's NOT a measure of your maturity in life. If you like reading that genre, more power to you. There's some awesome literature there. But what it does not mean is that if that's your preferred method of getting literary joy is that you're anymore lost or uncertain or less adult than people of a similar age who read "adult" books.
While we're at it, can we please make this idea that YA books are always fun and whimisical and more enjoyable and adult books are always stodgy and serious DIE IN A GIANT FIRE? Please, can we get together to do this. Because it seems to me that these "new" adult proponents are trying to say that if you're not writing about a teenager or 20-something protagonist or not writing for those sensibilities, that your works are dull, staid, too difficult to understand.
I resent the idea that somehow, you're only fun until you're 30 or 35 or 40 or whenever the hell you become an "old" adult
Most of the reads I have enjoyed were adult reads. They weren't staid or stodgy, they weren't "new" adult either. They were just good frickin' literature. I don't see the problem with keeping it that way.
I'm not a large child. I'm a woman. An adult. I may not always feel like I'm measuring up to society's standards of what an adult female should be. I'm not particularly thin, have no interest in bearing children, and shopping bores the sweet hell out of me. But that means that there's an issue with society's expectations. It means that society needs to wrap it's head around the diversity of women.
Not that I need a new label because I was born in 1984.
So to all those who are touting and promoting and thinking that this "new" adult thing is a great new idea: it isn't. Especially if you're female. It's just another patronizing voice telling you that instead of owning who you are, being firm in it, and making your way through the world with pride, dignity, and a demand for the respect you are entitled to that you ought to feel immature and not ready yet. That your anxieties mean you're not fully adult yet.
This new category is a patronizing pat on the head that say, "Oh, there dear, I know the world is so big and hard and you're just a wittle bitty girl. Here are some books about other wittle bitty girls, go over in that corner and read them until you're old enough to feel grown up. Leave all this hard adult stuff to us boys and older people."
Because you know what? Adulthood is not really all that much harder or worse than childhood. I remember childhood and my younger years and I really WOULDN'T ever revisit them. High school was miserable, my college years were forgettable at best.
I ENJOY being an adult, I ENJOY that I can take firm stances, that I can completely own myself, my beliefs, my actions, and my life.
And I don't need anyone telling me that because I'm 25 and I've got a vagina that somehow, it's supposed to be otherwise.
- Another note on "new" adult