The publishers have heard our cry.
As a reader of Young Adult (YA) novels, I found the sex scenes in the genre to be extremely disappointing.
Evidently I’m not the only YA fan who thinks so. The past four years have given rise to New Adult (NA) – a growing genre that has bridged the gap between YA and Adult Fiction.
The New Adult genre was borne out of demand among young readers for more mature content in their books… alongside the same YA tone they love more than their cardboard cut-outs of Edward Cullen.
In these books, the protagonists are generally aged between 18 to 25 and experiencing rites of passage like leaving home, experimenting with sexuality, negotiating careers, and starting families. But there’s a key difference.
Ninety nine per cent of the time, sex scenes in YA novels focus on the protagonist losing their virginity in some perfect, mind-blowing, earth-shattering experience where the couple is practically soul-bonded together.
Watch: Women confess their most embarrassing sex moment… like the ones not depicted in fiction. Post continues after video.
Most of the time the scene ends with the the pair “falling into the mattress”… and the next thing you know, it’s morning.
Sure, when I was 13 years old this was fine, but for someone who enjoys reading YA for the character development, the ‘anything is possible’ attitudes, glossing over a sex scene frustrates me to no end.
So the rise of New Adult comes as a huge relief.
It seems many publishers believed New Adult (NA) was just a phase or a marketing scheme and critics claimed there simply wasn’t the readership for it, because who wants to read about sex, right?
Well, joke's on them — self-published best selling authors like Jennifer L. Armentrout and Colleen Hoover have proved them wrong. Now, NA is in high demand.
Since the main distinction between YA and NA is how the characters deal with sex and sexuality, NA has been attacked as the over-sexualised versions of Young Adult fiction, like it's some crazy teen erotica.
What these criticisms tend to forget is that, unlike erotica, the sexual content of NA is a part of a subplot – not the whole story.
Some of our favourite, albeit unrealistic, sex scenes on screen. Post continues after gallery.
Betty-Sue doesn’t spend most of the novel going down on her partner. No, she might fight crime, or struggle with mental health issues, or be a bloodthirsty space pirate. Then she might go down on her partner. Hell, she might be all of those things at once. You do you, Betty-Sue.
While NA has predominately been explored in contemporary novels, it’s beginning to make an appearance in other genres like fantasy. One of the best examples of this I’ve read so far is from author Sarah J Maas.
While both of Maas’ current series (Throne of Glass, and A Court of Thorns and Roses) start off as YA fiction, as the series develops so do the characters' sexual interactions and relationships.
Maas is brilliant at showing that your first love isn’t always your best love or your 'forever love'. You can love someone and move on if what you first wanted in the relationship isn’t working for you any more. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. That’s growth.
That’s something that we should be teaching teens – that’s something I wish I knew when I was 14.
Books have such an influence on the way we see the world, and sometimes we need to see the world with less rainbows and starbursts, and more grittiness.
Here are some New Adult books I would recommend:
A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J Maas.
Loosely based on Beauty of the Beast, impoverish Feyre hunts to feed her family but when she kills a wolf in the forests around her house, a wild beast breaks into her home and demands her life for retribution for murdering his friend and fellow Fae warrior. Steam. Lots of steam and muscles.
by Colleen Hoover.
Girl moves town. Girl meets boy. Boy is a sex god. Turns out boy is older than she first thought. She could put boy in gaol. Whoops.
By Jamie McGurie.
Classic good girl (Abby) meets classic bad boy (Travis). He’s a ring fighter covered in tattoos. They make a bet. If she wins, he stays abstinent for a month. If she loses, she has to stay in his apartment for a month. I think you can guess where this is going…