Purple Prose + YA

What’s in a Name?

The growing popularity of New Adult books (most of which are self published) recently had me contemplating the name of this so-called genre. I mean, who the heck came up with it? But then, who came up with the term Young Adult? My son turns thirteen next month. That’s right, the boy who defied odds when he was born three months premature is going to be a teenager. But is he an adult who happens to be young? Hell, no! He’s still a boy.

Okay, so back to the term New Adult. How come after you’re a Young Adult, you hit college and are reborn into something ‘new? I mean, if you think about it, shouldn’t you be a New Adult for maybe a year or two and then graduate to Young Adult status? Wouldn’t that chronologically make sense?

And it’s not just New Adult and Young Adult terminology that seem screwed up. What about Middle Grade? Most kids who start reading Middle Grade books are in elementary school, not middle school. So, where the heck did that name come from?

Now technically none of this really matters. Many people (including agents) don’t consider MG, YA, and NA to be genres. They are nothing more than guidelines so publishers and readers know for what age range these books are intended. When we see the term Young Adult, we know the protagonist is going to be between 12-18 years old, and is dealing with issues different from those of younger kids and adults. When we see the term New Adult, we know the protagonist is going to between 18-25 years old, in college, and things might get pretty steamy between the guy and the girl. And in some books, ultra steamy.

Do you consider MG, YA, and NA to be genres? Do you agree that the terms for YA and NA are a little mixed up?

book, L — Logic, new adult, and more:

What’s in a Name? + YA