Discussing Book Genres

Are Book Genres fixed?

A good friend and blog reader asked me to write a post defining some of the genres I write about in my book reviews. With particular reference to the differences between New Adult, Young Adult and Teen fiction. There are, as you can probably imagine, many differing views when you start researching a subject like this, so I’ve put together some general definitions which I find fit with the books I’ve read, and then I thought I’ll open it up for some discussion.

Teen Fiction: Generally this can be put into the age brackets of 10-15 years.

Young Adult: This is often targeting the 16-25 years age bracket, but with the emergence of the New Adult genre, I would personally lower this to 16-19. For me it covers the transformation from adolescence to young adults, first loves, leaving home, college, learning to drive, drinking, parties.

New Adult: This crosses the Young Adult age bracket and is generally for 18-25 years. For me these books will contain characters who use strong language, first sexual relationships, first jobs, university students. They are more experienced with life and the storylines will reflect that.

 I find the edges really blur between Young adult and New adult and with the explosion of books about vampires, wizards and the supernatural. There are varying levels of horror and violence that these contain.

I enjoy reading books from both the Young adult and New adult genres when mixed in with my other reading material. I’m not one who enjoys alot of horror, violence or erotica, so they often suit my mood.

Over to you…

So what about you? How would you define the genres?

Is New adult just a new marketing scam?

Do you enjoy reading from these genres?

A high percentage of adults read from these genres, do you think this is because they follow a trend for shorter books?

18 thoughts on “Discussing Book Genres

  1. Hi Rosie – I agree that it is probably a new marketing ploy. For me, Young Adult should really be just that and leave the teen years out of it, but that is not the case. I do read some Young Adult in order to review for my blog. At the same time, I’m thinking of whether it is appropriate for my grandchildren who are beginning to hit their teen years. Take care! 🙂


  2. Thanks, Rosie, for the explanation. I have to admit that I was sort of baffled by the labels. If New Adult distinguishes itself from Young Adult at least partially on the basis of strong language and sexual content, it will definitely help us older folk pick books for our children, grandchildren etc. While I read Harry Potter with all the excitement of a kid, I’m in the dark about the attraction of ghouls, vampires and the undead!


  3. I think one of the biggest things to keep in mind is those aren’t actually genres. They’re recommended age ranges for books. All of those age ranges can have different genres with in them (mystery, fantasy, romance, science fiction, etc). Just like children’s fiction and adult fiction.

    I do find the New Adult age range to be a bit scammy. Originally the books were supposed to feature characters who weren’t teenagers and weren’t full adults either (~18-24). They should have had a wide variety of genres within the age range. Instead New Adult books have evolved simply into contemporary romance that almost borders on erotica.

    I think adults enjoy reading YA because it’s an escape. The adult world can be boring so reading “adult” books that deal with “adult” things isn’t a great way to escape. YA books allow us to relive things we won’t experience again: problems with parents, anxiety from crushes, juggling friendships/school, etc. Then of course YA storylines are pretty interesting and fun. As someone who works with books, YA books have some of the most interesting plots, stories, and world in books out there. Not to mention the authors really respect their readers and don’t dumb down their books.


    • What a great answer. It reminds me why I like many of the books in this genre, it’s the rush of first love it’s almost addictive. So exciting for the individual and brings back fond memories for me.


  4. Thank you for this information. I like the explanation about genres/ age range. A simple way to decide if I want to read the book, let alone give it to my grandchildren who fall in these categories. I have no interest in the vampire explosion or science fiction, sorry authors of these genres. GOOD WritING, that’s the ticket regardless of age categories or genre.


  5. Me personally I don’t even think any of them should be considered genres. To me genre is about a type of emotion classification such as Drama, Romance, Thriller, Horror, Suspense. Those make sense. Science Fiction and Fantasy, Young Adult, New Adult make zero sense. It also makes the writer focus on the wrong thing if they say they are going to write a Young Adult novel, they are kind of excluding what a story should be. Now if they say, I am writing a suspense novel for young adults in a fantasy world, I’d be okay with that.


  6. Thanks Rosie, I must admit that about a year ago I kept encountering the term ‘new adult’ and was a bit mystified. The age of one’s heroine in a rom com can vary tremendously but I’d say that most of them are no older than late 20’s. I like writing about the intensity and emotional turmoil of falling in love for the first time for the heroine but I think of my novels as contemporary rather than New Adult, if that makes sense.


  7. I thought YA was teen fiction! But, yes, I do read it.

    I also think that books can change gender genres, depending on the decade and what’s popular.

    I sincerely hope New Adult is a marketing ploy, because it just doesn’t make sense to me.


  8. Interesting post and comments thank you. I’ve been a bit mystified by the fascination of the younger generation (even full blown adults) with YA and New Adult etc and their fascination with ghouls and ghosts. But I think I perceive the fascination – the unseen and its pull. Don’t forget Mary Bysshe Shelley:Frankenstein, or Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: RL Stevenson …


  9. Hi Rosie .. I’ve read a couple of YAs or young fiction – but frankly found them awful – but I guess I’m not in tune and not having kids – I’m probably from the ark!! Still as Susan says we have the classics that still inspire … cheers HIlary


    • No worries, to be fair they are aimed at younger readers so you’re within your rights not to connect with the storylines. They’re not all bad at all, and if you don’t like a book there are a zillion more to choose from.


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