Should Young Adult And New Adult Be Shelved Together? Discussion

Young Adult Fiction (YA): a category of fiction published for readers in their youth. YA books are catered towards readers from 12 to 18 years of age.

New Adult Fiction (NA): a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket.

Site: Wikipedia

Before I joined the online book community in January, I thought that young adult was, well, for young adults! I’m a teenager between the ages of 12-18 who has been reading young adult since I was 12 and thought I would continue reading it until I was 18, and I thought that that was just how it was, similar to how I stopped reading middle grade when I hit middle school.

However, since joining the book community online and taking to the internet to expressing my bookish opinions and reading those of other people, I was surprised to learn that many adults read YA fiction–many YA readers are adults.

I was a bit surprised to learn that, but I wasn’t upset at all–in fact I was thrilled! I think it’s just so amazing that people of all ages from all different situations can all connect and bond over the same books, and how the experiences that teenage protagonists have can be shared by those well beyond their teenage years. I absolutely love interacting with/reading reviews of adults on YA!


Another category of fiction that I’ve discovered too is New Adult/NA fiction, which depicts slightly older people. However, from what I’ve heard, a lot of NA fiction is just glorified smut/romance, and doesn’t sell anywhere near as well as the wildly popular YA. Consequently, it seems that many publishers have taken to marketing NA books as YA.

To be honest, this is something that I’m torn on. I recently read Fangirl, and as an older teen who is looking to college, I really enjoyed it! As I’ve gone into a bit of a depression realizing I’m finally older than many YA protagonist–Katniss was light years older than me when I read Hunger Games how is this happening???–I thought it was amazing to be able to look to what older teens are going through, and to be able to take the same old high school drama to a new setting.

Image result for fangirl rainbow rowell

Another “NA” I’ve read is The Truth about Happily Ever After. Going off the synopsis alone, when I started reading the book, I was under the impression that it was about a high school girl, and was surprised to find it about a college girl in a sorority who wants to move in with her boyfriend. It was definitely a surprise, and while I still enjoyed it, I definitely thought it too mature for my 12 year old self in the YA section.

Image result for the truth about happily ever after

Finally, everyone knows about the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas, which is filled with pages and pages of explicit sex by 20+ year olds, but is still marketed at teenagers? This is one that I felt uncomfortable reading parts of, and I’m almost certain is only in YA to make more money. I can’t believe this series actually won the Goodreads choice awards for young adult!!!

Image result for court of thorns and roses

All three of the above books were shelved in the Young Adult section at my library, and the last two I started without knowing they were actually New Adult. My problem with NA books (in my eyes, any book with a main character college age/18+) being marketed as YA is that they can easily be picked up by younger readers in the YA section and read, not realizing that it’s really NA. Although there are some books I read based off blog/goodreads recommendations, there are more books that I just walk into the library and pick up based off the blurb, and I would have no way of knowing that they’re not YA. Like I said, I started reading YA when I was 12, and I read some books that I now consider very mild that I thought were crazy mature and scandalous back then! Needless to say, I probably would have been scarred for life if I read ACOTAR.

Honestly, I think it’s kind of disgusting that ACOTAR is being marketed as YA when it’s clearly just for money. However, it’s harder to tell for books like Fangirl, and I’m torn over whether they should be separated and sold as NA. One solution I have is that I’ve noticed some books on the inside flap have a little 12+ or 14+ age suggestion–this was something that I used a lot when I was 12. Those are the only two ages I’ve seen though, and it might be helpful to have them on older books, maybe 16+. Of course if you’re younger you can still read them, but it’s a general guide.

Anyways, tell me your thoughts on marketing YA books as NA! This is something that I’m still unsure of–should Fangirl or ACOTAR be shelved as YA? And where should we draw the line–at age, or at sexuality/violence/language, etc.


35 thoughts on “Should Young Adult And New Adult Be Shelved Together? Discussion

  1. I feel as if books like ACOTAR should be shelved underneath NA as they depict such sexual acts that a fourteen year old is most likely not ready to read. Not all teens are the same but having that be their first introduction to such content is something that is terrifying, especially if their parents trust that books in the YA section are YA books.
    But on the other hand books like Fangirl aren’t as graphic and if a fourteen year old was to read them, wouldn’t be as damaging. It’s all about the content of the book and how graphic it is.

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  2. Lovely post! I’m so glad so many different people read YA. More people for us to discuss books with! I feel like they should definitely separate the genres and they should definitely have warnings as well. I know that the SJM books say ‘mature content’ + you could guess at that, but it’s still vague and the books should tell readers what is actually ‘mature’ about it. I just think it’s terrible that the series is being marketed as YA and I know that my 12 year old self would have loved clearer warnings.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Me too 🙂 Do all the versions of the SJM books say mature content? I don’t remember seeing that on the version I read…although that could just be because I don’t often read the stuff in the front of the book. Thanks for commenting 🙂


  3. I really think what separates YA from NA is the sexual content. I really think that books should have a rating system a bit like movies with M, MA (R in America) or PG or whatever.
    I agree, ‘Young Adult’ is really tenuous and what is appropriate for a 20 year old and a 12 year old are so different, and realistically a 20 year old is in the NA bracket, but books rarely want to be labeled as NA because YA is more profitable (because its a hugely profitable genre).
    That being said, there is so much cultural relativism here, I find that Americans tend to be VERY worried about sexual content in books marketed to teens, and in other places its fine as long as its not explicit, and in others its completely fine.
    There’s also a lot of difficulty because I found as a teenager we read The Kite Runner (I was about 15?) and I was horrified, because the story contains a fairly graphic rape, but I wouldn’t have been worried about consensual sex stuff at all. But some people don’t think teens should be exposed to that at all.
    I really think the whole way we classify ‘appropriateness’ of books is so subjective so books should really have clearer content warnings rather than trying to make broad sweeping statements about what is and isn’t for which age group.

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  4. I do not like how they are shelved together for many of the same reasons you have mentioned. I think they are placed together for marketing but also because the books that are NA still look fairly YA and therefore “not for real adults” which is ridiculous because a well written book can always be enjoyed. However, I would not want a 12 year old to pick up a NA because of themes presented are ones not appropriate for their age. This is a great post and discussion!

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  5. I think age suggestion is a great idea. I bought a YA book the other day that had “warning” about strong language and even romance 😂. I liked that.

    Haven’t read Sarah J. Mass at all, but juicy sex scenes don’t sound like something a 12 year old would appreciate too much. I don’t think i would have when i was that age. That said, i did read historical fiction written for adults, set during ww2 when I was 12, and i don’t know how appropriate that was but i did quite like it.

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    1. I’m glad you think so! It can be really frustrating to get half way into a book and then decide to put it down because it’s too mature…happened quite a few times when I was younger, although not really anymore haha!

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  6. Lovely post! Haha, the older you get, the faster it seems you get older 😅. I read both categories of books. I’m not sure I’d shelve them together, although it seems more and more that the demarcation between the two is blurring. :/

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  7. I’m 23 and enjoy reading YA, NA and adult books. I definitely like how YA/NA books are separated from their “adult” counterparts in bookstores because it makes it easier to find (a) what I’m looking for and (b) things similar to those I’m looking for.

    I love NA books because they’re often aimed at people around my age. The actual NA genre only seems to have evolved over the last few years, but some of the more “mature YA” books I started reading at around 17-18 would probably be classified as “NA” today. I think it would be great if they managed to separate YA and NA books in bookstores too, since there is actually quite a maturity difference between, say, the 13-16 and 17-19 age groups (especially for girls). The tricky part is that there’s a fine line between YA and NA and this would be really hard to do!

    Great post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. When I worked at Barnes and Noble this was something we struggled with so much. I mean we could put in requests to shelve books in an area that differs from what they come in for which was nice bc we could say yeah there’s no way a young teen should read this. And yet we still got plenty of complaints from parents who didn’t want their teen reading certain romantic aspects or violence. It is tough bc a 12 year old shouldn’t be reading the same titles as a 17 year old but I think at the end of the day it’s gotta come down to the parents to check the books out before their kids when they are younger, more easily influenced teens. Too bad publishers can’t release young teen friendly versions of books like ACOTAR.

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  9. I agree that they should be separated. Some content is for more mature readers and not acceptable for 12 year olds. However, I think because the NA market never really took off, there is this problem with nowhere to put them because they are too old for YA but too young for adult. If libraries and bookstores separated them into better age groups, or like you said about the general age guide being in all the books would be a lot better.

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  10. I think a content and maturity warning should be added but otherwise, sex still happens in real life and no shying away from it in books is going to change that. It’s a discussion that needs to take place between parents and teen readers though.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree somewhat; however, since the average age to have sex for the first time is around 17 that means we can guess on average only about 1/4 of teens reading YA have had sex. Therefore, putting it in just seems excessive to me personally 0.o

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, that is true… I do feel like if it is appropriately and sensitively handled, then at least kids learn about it because let’s face, schools don’t always do a great job at this. But then again, that’s an educators responsibility.


  11. Totally agree! At least some warning could be added that mentions what kind of adult content it has, then readers can decide if they are up for it or not and therefor avoid nasty surprises.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’d prefer the two to be shelved separately simply because most libraries I have been to section off the part of the library with YA books as a “teen only” zone, which is a bit off-putting.

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  13. The genres are hard to differentiate at times. If books labeled YA contain explicit sex they should be moved out of the section, but there are books in the NA category which are clean and young adults could read with no problem.

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  14. This is so true! Personally I was incredibly relieved to discover that so many adults read YA, because now it feels like it’s socially acceptable to continue reading it after I turn 18 haha.

    The YA vs NA question is interesting because I feel like the boundary is blurry; a lot of “older/mature YA” books that I’ve read should probably be classified as NA. Also, YA is such a big, profitable genre, while NA occupies a smaller, more uncomfortable space between YA and adult.

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  15. I was most interested to read this post and find out the views of the younger generation on the YA versus NA debate. The main differentiating factor is sex and the detail in which it is included in the book. I personally don’t think sex is necessary, or should be included, in YA books. A hint and a bit of emotion is enough. From what I remember that is exactly how it is for a lot of teens.

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