In 2015, the “New Adult” genre was just beginning to establish itself. “50 Shades of Grey” had become a mega-success and had made a need clear. And the first authors jumped on this bandwagon and made books for young adults in which sexuality has its well-deserved place – just as it is in reality.
The protagonists of this literature are on the threshold of adulthood. They are taking their first steps out into life, whether it be into college or professional life. And usually one of the central themes is the question of choosing a partner, of discovering one’s own sexuality. They deal with the subject of sex in a pleasantly uninhibited way, thus opening a wide door for all authors who enjoy erotic descriptions without immediately wanting to write a classic “romance”. The readership is also considerably younger than that of the well-known romance series. Their core age is between 18 and 25, although some top titles like “Fifty Shades of Grey” have developed into real all-agers.
When I browse bookstores looking for interesting titles, I usually move on from the girls’ fiction to the “naughty women” corner and read through countless blurbs to rake out the books that currently appeal to me. In my experience, most of the sales assistants, especially in the big book chains, still react rather uncomprehendingly when I ask them about “New Adult”.
Things are a bit different in the English-speaking market. So I found a list of the most important new releases from 2015 on www.goodreads.com. The readers on the portal – a kind of sister portal to the German-language lovelybooks.de, had the opportunity to rate these titles. The list is not really representative. For the bestsellers of the genre, there were about 75 people who voted. But already for place 10 there were just 30 voters.
Colleen Hoover: Confess
However, the number of ratings is much higher. And probably the number of received ratings says much more about the interest in the respective book than the few active voters. For example, the top title, Colleen Hoover’s Confess, received a remarkable 47,871 ratings with an average of 4.29 out of 5 stars. The book was originally published in March 2015.
I myself have only read “Hope Forever” by Colleen Hoover so far, but was impressed by both the style and the depth of the plot. If you missed the blogpost about the book, you can find it here: Approaches – Hope Forever.
Colleen is certainly one of the authors best known in this country. So far, every bookstore I’ve poked my nose into has had her in stock with several titles at once. On the Goodreads list, she has 3 books in the top 10 alone, which speaks for itself.
Elle Kennedy: The Deal
I’m currently reading “The Deal (Off-Campus)” by Elle Kennedy myself. It’s only in 4th place according to the Goodreads ratings, but it has a whopping 45,733 ratings and an even better average than Hoover’s “Confess,” which is 4.35 out of 5 stars. It was originally published on April 9, 2015.
The plot is classic, with the now almost customary dash of drama: Hannah, the protagonist, has been rendered defenseless at a party with knockout drops and subsequently raped. As a result, she withdraws, avoids parties and alcohol, and devotes herself entirely to her studies. She quickly becomes top of her class. However, she has her eye on the school’s football star, Justin.
Garrett, the captain of the field hockey team, wants her to tutor him because if his grade point average doesn’t improve, he’ll be kicked off the team. At first, Hannah doesn’t want the job at all, but agrees to a deal: she needs Garrett because Justin is into status and she hopes to gain that status with the field hockey leader by her side.
Of course, they both realize that the other(s) don’t fit the stereotype at all and have their likable sides. To a certain extent, the story is predictable, but written in a fun way and without leaving out the physical side, as usually happens in young adult literature. For example, I don’t recall ever reading such a refreshing discussion of “morning wood” as Elle Kenedy’s.
Elle Kennedy’s OffCampus series already has three volumes in the original, but with new protagonists in each novel:
Tammara Webber: Sweet
Tammara is one of the front women of “New Adult”. So I was a little surprised to find her first title at #41 on the list. Her own story is intriguing because it shows how the Internet can provide opportunities for complete outsiders. When she started writing, hardly anyone knew about the genre, so publishers were very dismissive of her first text. So, similar to E. L. James, the hype initially developed on the Internet, where she published her novel. It wasn’t until more and more readers began pestering publishers to have Tammara’s books in a print edition that she got a contract. And immediately stormed onto the bestseller lists with it.
Currently on my pile of unread books are “Easy” and “Breakable.”, the books that gave her her breakthrough. Perhaps she has lost a little of her wit in her more recent novels. “Sweet (Contours of the Heart, Vol. 3),” published in April 2015, has just 3,673 ratings with an average of 3.92 out of 5.
Falling Hard: A New Adult Anthology
At #2 on the voting list is an anthology of not one but five college novels. The authors are Shelly Bell, M.K. Schiller, Aliza Mann, Sage Spelling, and Heather Novak. Those looking to get a first taste of the genre with a book purchase should be well served by “Falling Hard (A New Adult Anthology).” However, the antho, which was published on May 23, 2015, is currently already out of print and can only be obtained antiquarian on the net with a little luck. However, it all sounds like the publisher is planning a new edition.
M. Robinson: The Good Ol’ Boys
Also with 2 titles in the top ten is M. Robinson. The two volumes “Complicate Me” and Forbid Me are part of the series “The Good Ol’ Boys”. A college story, a coming of age, with the classic themes: Who am I? Where do I want to go? And, of course, who does my heart beat for?
M. Robinson is also one of those authors who publish primarily on the Net. That’s encouraging. With “The Good Ol’ Boys,” she has taken her first, successful step into the print sector. A German publisher is not in sight, at least not in the short term.
Kylie Scott: The Stage Dive series
Kylie’s fourth volume in the Stage dive series, Deep, was originally released on November 19, 2015. On Goodreads, the book received 19,926 ratings with an average of 4.11 out of 5.
The first three volumes of the series are:
Not a Rock Star for One Night
Who wants a rock star?
Rock stars don’t stay forever
Kylie, who hails from Australia, has now made it to the New York Times bestseller list with her novels. So the genre has upside potential.
Seth King: The Summer Remains
Seth, on the other hand, is still relatively early in his career. Four eBooks in the Kindle edition, now his first print novel, “The Summer Remains,” which made it to #9 on the best “New Adult” new releases of 2015 thanks to reader voting. Only 2,002 ratings so far, but with an average of 4.2, which suggests there will be more to come from Seth in the future. By the way, he’s the only man on the list, if I’m reading this correctly.
Reader reviews sound enthusiastic: “Emotional. Heartbreaking. Beautiful. Powerful. Inspiring.” More than a few mentioned they cried uncontrollably while reading it. What it’s about: A young woman, Summer Johnson, suffers from esophageal atresia, a congenital malformation that involves a break in the esophagus. She is facing surgery in three months that may bring improvement but also involves a 20% risk of not waking up from anesthesia. She decides to make those three months the best time of her life and take away as many experiences as she can. She meets Cooper Nichols through a dating app. A highly emotional love story unfolds between the two.
Sometimes I get annoyed by meaningless praise from readers in reviews. But after two or three reviews, I was so curious about the book that I ordered it immediately – despite my TBR. I just want to know what Seth was up to. And while I didn’t burst into tears while reading it, I did take it upon myself to read the book a second time and write out some key phrases and memorize them – life-affirming phrases that helped set my perspective a little straight.
Jay Crownover: Asa (Marked Men, #6).
Finally, let’s move on to #10 on the list. You’ve noticed by now that New Adult often works through book series. Jay Cownover has now landed on volume 6 with her Marked Men series. ASA was originally published on May 07, 2015. 9,790 ratings with an average of 4.2.
In Germany, Bastei Publishing is handling the release of the series, but is only on Volume 2, which is due out March 11 under the title In His Voice. Volume 1, In His Eyes, has been on the market since September 10, 2015.
I have not yet read any of the volumes and am merely inferring from the hints in the reviews that the “marked men” are employees of a Denver/Colorado tattoo parlor. Therefore, tattoos and piercings, techniques and the philosophy behind them, also have their place in the novels. Otherwise, it is the usual love stories, where over time the background, the scars, of the protagonists also come to light.
Let’s summarize: As far as “New Adult” is concerned, German publishers are hopelessly behind. They only really jumped on the bandwagon one or two years ago, and now, of course, there is a need to catch up.
What’s nice about the genre is that even outsiders without a publishing contract have a chance in the genre. Quite a few authors on the list have, until recently, only published via KDP or similar programs on the Internet. And at least Tammara Webber would never have gotten a book deal without her online fan base.
Have fun browsing,