Dear New Adult:
Hey, NA. I can call you NA, right? I mean, you and I have been seeing each other for almost 4 years. That’s a really long time, but the passionate love affair we once had isn’t what it used to be. My feelings for you have diminished drastically in the past year. And I have to confess something: I’ve been seeing other people. Others who are quieter, less dramatic, and make me forget all about you.
What was so great about you in the beginning was the enjoyment of reading about characters who were my age, in situations that most twenty-somethings face. Back then, many of your stories were filled with realistic issues, memorable characters, and great writing that kept me entertained for hours.
Now, you’ve become stale. You’re repeating the same story over and over again. And I’m so sick of hearing it. You’ve become something else over the last three years. I don’t like what you’ve become, and I’m no longer in love with you.
Is this the end of our love affair? Not quite. I’m still willing to date you, but unless something changes I will throw in the towel. For now, I’m putting my guard up and giving you some conditions for continuing our relationship:
- Please stop throwing in all the plot twists in the universe. Trust me, I like good drama, but it’s not necessary to create a twisted dramatic web in every single book that is so outside the realm of reality that it’s nearly impossible to tell which way is up. I don’t know if this is happening more often as a way to provide a distraction, so the reader doesn’t notice the novel’s other weakness(es) or to disguise poor writing. But I’m tired of this. Quiet new adult romance is nearly non-existent. I want some more of that.
- NA heroines, stop wondering whether “he will fit.” I have never read a NA book where the couple had to jump ship because he didn’t fit, so I’m fairly confident that it will always fit. In all seriousness, what’s the point of the heroine asking this anyway? Is it to make the hero seem that much more “attractive” by showcasing the impressiveness of his girth or how big he is? The jury’s out on that one. I’m sure that the sex scene would survive without this one line. The “will it fit” line is so overused now, and even in the days where it wasn’t overused, it still made me roll my eyes. And while we’re on the subject of sex scenes, the “Oops, we forgot a condom foreshadowing a pregnancy” is no longer a subtle clue to readers that Jane Doe will ultimately have a bun in the oven.
- You don’t need to outdo all previously released books’ level of tragedy. It seems like the Big Drama is getting more outlandish by the book. It’s to the point where things like rape aren’t enough anymore to create an emotional response from the reader. No, there has to be something worse. Since when did rape become something just sort of sad? If you’re going to have some sort of psychological trauma or any type of trauma, it needs to be fully explored and given the respect it is due, not just used as a plot device. And this isn’t just happening with the whole rape storyline. Readers are becoming desensitized to horrendous things because of the overuse of gratuitous violence and trauma. And for what? Shock value? Stop it.
- Recycle beloved storylines/tropes but do so in a new and fresh way. I’ve read some great books with a very commonly used “hook” and some not-so-great ones. The ones I didn’t like often just put in a few tropes and character types and then did nothing to make them their own. Some of my favorite books have such simple love stories with a trope that is unoriginal, but the book is written well and the characters so fully developed that it works. Tropes are okay but add something different to make them feel new to the reader.
- Fromaggio needs to shut up. Tone down the amount of cheesy lines. Trust me, I love a good romance one-liner. I love when the author builds the couple’s chemistry and then places the perfect romantic line for that special moment. But I find myself laughing when I read some of the most quoted lines in NA these days. In fact, as a joke my friends and I have a game where we try to come up with the cheesiest romance novel quotes. (Side note: I am the master at this game) And then we’re horrified when similar lines, ones we thought were funny, show up in romance novels in a completely serious way. Am I the only person who reads some of these lines now and rolls my eyes?
- Please, no more ‘broken shards of your soul tumbling down the abyss of despair and never-ending heartache’ lines. I don’t really feel like I need to say more on this other than I’m tired of these types of lines.
- Give me a real conflict that moves the story forward. When a book is held together by a weak conflict it falls apart. I’ve seen this so many times. I get to the 60-ish% mark and then everything sort of fizzles out or the author throws in several weak conflicts hoping the reader falls for it.
- BE ORIGINAL. NO MORE COPYCATS! Stop blatantly ripping off other people’s stories. You’ve probably all heard the line, “No story is an original story.” That’s partly true, but not a defense or an excuse to take a concept from another peer. This seems to be happening more often lately (and not just in the New Adult world. It’s happening everywhere). I’ve even seen some readers call the author out on the copying and then condone it because Original Author should “take it as a compliment” that Copying Author would feel so inspired. There is a difference between being inspired and the overt theft of specific ideas, ones that Copying Author would never have had without Original Author’s work. And it’s not okay.
- More three-dimensional characters and make me care about them, please. I don’t see enough of this in New Adult. More often, I see stock characters with the same traits in book after book. For example, the broken girl character type needs to go. I’m not saying that traumatized girls need to go (some of my favorite heroines have gone through some sort of trauma). What I’m saying is that this seems to be many authors’ shortcut to create instant character depth. Characters have become so unimagined that they don’t feel real to me. It’s almost like authors haven’t delved into a character’s mind to find out what they like, what they don’t, what their histories are like. Give me characters with more depth. Yes, even in the “light and fun reads” (Actually, especially in those reads).
Those are my conditions. And I’m sticking around for now.
I have faith in you, New Adult. I think we could get back to our glory days. I still like reading about twenty-somethings trying to find their way. That’s what New Adult was intended to be, or at least what I wanted/hoped it would be. Instead, it’s morphed into twenty-somethings having a lot of sex and convoluted storylines.
I really want someone to come into the genre and shake things up. Bring something new to the table. Someone whose writing is on point, who cares deeply about characterization.
Please come back to me, New Adult, when you’re not so drunk.
Note: I am not saying that every New Adult book is terrible. I am just stating that I see a pattern in the genre after reading several books that have these things. And I think it’s time for a change, a New Adult revolution if you will.
Very Truly Yours,
Tell me in the comments:
- I’d love to hear your opinion whether you agree with me or not!
- Have you become disenchanted by the New Adult genre?
- What are some things you wish would change?
- Are there aspects of the genre that you’re glad has changed?