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What is New Adult? A Look at The Genre Taking BookTok by Storm

If you’re a reader and you have TikTok, chances are you have seen the term ‘New Adult’ floating around BookTok recently. So what is ‘New Adult’, and why is it so important? 

New Adult is designed for readers aged 18-25, though some argue that it extends to 30. Before this genre, many 20-somethings were either stuck reading young adult or reading adult fiction, while feeling like they didn’t fully fit into either group. To combat this, authors and publishers began to explore a new genre designed to appeal to the 18-25 audience through tackling storylines that dealt with similar issues faced by the transition into adult life.

So what makes New Adult different from Young Adult? For starters, the protagonists of YA novels are 16/17-year-olds which makes it very hard to relate to them in your 20s. At 16/17, your life experiences and thought processes are very different to when you are in your 20s, so new adults don't see themselves reflected in the characters and their experiences which is part of the journey. This is why it’s so important to have NA books containing older protagonists. Having characters who are the same age and experiencing similar issues makes a novel much more engaging, as the reader can imagine themselves as the character.

Similarly, the themes of NA are more mature than those in YA but are not the same as in Adult fiction. YA mainly focuses on high-school, puberty, and friendship issues while Adult fiction focuses more on marriage, children, and established careers. NA novels tread the line between the two. It deals with university, finding a career, sex and relationships, as well as politics and more complex social issues. These themes reflect what 18-25-year-olds go through and how their perception of the world begins to change as they make the transition into independent life.

Unfortunately, NA has struggled to get recognition as a legitimate literary genre. It has gained a reputation as YA but with smutty erotica. This reputation has caused damage to the genre and has put many people off of reading NA books. That’s not to say that smut isn’t a part of NA, but that isn’t all the genre is and it erases a huge part of why people love it. Luckily, NA has begun to get more support and recognition recently due to the popularity of Tiktok and ‘Bookstagram’ on Instagram. These book bloggers are bringing attention to the differences between YA and NA and are convincing readers to check out the new genre.


So, where to start with New Adult fiction? Here are some of my favourites!

  • Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

  • From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

  • Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas

  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang


Megan is a second-year Classical Studies student at King's College London. She can usually be found reading any and every book she can get her hands on, wandering around the museums of London, or binge-watching shows on Netflix
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