Jumping from Young Adult (YA) to Adult Novels: How Different Can They Be?

July 9, 2018

The traditional publishing industry is slow moving and reluctant to change. However, as the YA readers of Harry Potter and Twilight have grown up, they are entering an age gap that has yet to be filled. 




Young adult novels are awesome, even as an adult. They are generally shorter, lighter reads. The content is generally pretty clean. The stories generally tell of thrilling and exciting adventures that every teen wishes they could live. 




As I mentioned in my previous post, some of us are not 13 anymore. YA books are awesome and fun and easy to read, but now we need stories that feature older characters.


*Enter the adult section at the library*



First off, what on Earth happened to the covers of books. YA covers are bright, colorful, exciting, and draw you into the book before you even open it. Adult books have the author's name taking up half of the front and the title is stuck at the bottom, the colors are muted at best and dingy at worst, the graphics are either old or non-existent. Did they save all the good cover designers for YA? Do adults not like looking at beautiful things anymore? I am honestly asking here. Coming from the beauty and color of YA, I was severely disappointed. 



I picked up a few books with the most interesting covers and dove into reading the blurbs to see if I wanted to take them home or not. After reading a line or two, I realized this character was way out of my age range. The ones I had picked up all featured adults in their 40s. The characters were dealing with midlife crises, divorces, and unfulfilled futures. The stories accompanying those characters still intrigued me, so I decided to start reading a few of them anyway. Let me tell you, the age gap matters. There were so many things that I could not relate to about that character's life. I went back and searched for younger adult characters (not the "young adult" on the shelves next to them that featured 12-18 year olds). 


There were none. Scratch that, I did find one or a couple thinly-veiled erotica novels about people in their 20s that there was no way I was walking out of the library with. Other than that, there was nothing. NOTHING. 



After getting over the nasty covers and the awkward age difference, I did settle into a few of the novels. However, I love reading books with romance in them. If the book doesn't have it, then it takes a lot more to keep my attention. Just my personal preference. Anyway, I'm about halfway through this particular book and am thoroughly invested in the story line. Then, I turn the page and...the book describes the crazy sex scene in exquisite, explicit detail. I turn the pages quickly and skip to the next part, hoping that was the only incident. 


It wasn't. Eventually, I just skipped to the end so I could see how the story ended and put the book down. I tried my luck on another adult novel and had a similar experience. In YA, the romance consists of hand-holding, kissing, and maybe implied and off-the-page intimacy. That was how I liked it! In adult stories, it seems that a vast majority of them are speaking to desensitized adults that don't mind. 



Seriously. Every time a character opens their mouth, at least one swear word is attached. I get that these people are adults and there are no parents to censor their vocabulary. But really. Really?



It seems, in a general sense, the innocence and imagination of YA are not present in adult novels. The books are simply not designed for people in their 20s who want to dive into another world, they are designed for middle-aged people who want to pass the time. 


So, to clarify, YA books are designed for 12-18 year olds. Adult books are designed for 40 year olds. See the problem?


I think it is fine that the two categories are so different. After all, they are serving completely different audiences. However, I think the publishing industry has done an excellent job of creating an unfulfilled niche of readers that are stuck somewhere in the middle. Readers like me who still want a tame love story with creative adventure, but can no longer get on board with lockers and lunch tables and first kisses. 


Thanks for reading!


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