Two years ago, I created a Top Ten Tuesday list for people who wanted to try New Adult reads but were reluctant to do so. It was a long list of some of my favourites, but I’ve read a lot more great books in the last 2 years. So, I’ve decided to update that list, get a little more specific and provide some tips on making the transition.
Of course, you can always check out that old list for some more inspiration 😉
What is New Adult (NA)?
No, it isn’t “new” adult fiction novels. It’s a genre of novels that bridges those years between young adult and adult fiction. I think the New Adult Book Club explains it best:
New Adult books focus on the period in life where you are becoming a proper adult. The characters are usually between about 18 – 25 and are generally either at college or starting their first job.
The category fits in-between YA and Adult books. It has a similar coming of age feel as YA books but rather than people experiencing their first kisses the content and issues used are more mature such as first serious relationships and heartbreak.
Tips on making the jump:
- Pick the right novel!
- If you are someone who doesn’t like a lot of sexy times in their novels, find novels that don’t have as much sex! Don’t like dark/sad stories, find a lighter one? This genre is so diverse there is definitely something for everyone.
- See if an author you like has a NA novel.
- Don’t jump for the contemporaries right away!
- If you are hit or miss with the YA contemporaries, try a non-contemporary pick. That way, you can get used to the slightly older characters and get accustomed to some of the more common plot themes of the genre as a whole.
- Look for a trope you like.
- Find a bridging novel.
- There are some YA and NA reads that straddle the line. These might be high school characters (what I classify as YA) that deal with more mature themes like mental health or tragedy. Others might start as YA but the sequels may be NA as the characters age and mature.
If you like coming of age stories, try Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This is often classified as YA but in my mind, it’s the definition of New Adult. A college freshmen trying to orient herself in life and in the world. Throw in first love, new friendships and some family drama, and you’ve got yourself a true coming of age NA novel.
If you like YA paranormal stories, try Queen of Blood by Jill Myles
I love a good vampire story and this one meets the grade. It’s got a great plot, a solid romance and a touch of maturity that is often lacking in YA paranormal stories.
If you like YA science fiction stories, try Soulless (Immortal Gene Series) by Jacinta Maree
If you are looking for a great adventure and don’t mind some violence, pick up this series! The plot is thrilling, with twists abound and the world is super cool. Add to it a kickass heroine in Nadia and you’ve got a winner!
If you like YA fantasy stories, try A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR Series #1) by Sarah J Maas
Again, another novel that is often classified YA but the age of the characters and the subject matter is more NA to me. It’s grittier and has a mature vibe to it that takes it to the next level.
If you like stories involving mental illness, try Spiral by Mila Ferrera
Characters dealing with a mental illness are becoming more prevalent in YA and that is also the case in NA. This one is a personal favourite for how it realistically handles mental illness in a romantic relationship.
If you like stories that deal with tragedy, try Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1) by K A Tucker
I’ll admit, I was worried Kacey was going to be an overly angsty given her past but she is so likeable. This story does a great job of showing the effects drunk driving can have on an individual and family. It’s gritty and real and has a strong plot that readers will enjoy.
If you like dark love romances, try Black Iris by Leah Raeder
This story isn’t for everyone! It definitely has mature subject mature in its revenge plot that will make people uncomfortable. But, it is such a unique story that readers will appreciate if they invest the time.
If you like sport romance stories, try The Deal (Off-Campus Series #1) by Elle Kennedy
There are a ton I could have picked for this but 1) I have a soft spot for hockey players (I’m Canadian, it’s in my blood) and 2) it’s just a really well done NA romance. It has everything: a fantastically likeable characters, a strong plot and a swoon worthy romance. It’s a winner!
If you like fake dating relationship stories, try Charade (Games Trilogy #1) by Nyrae Dawn
What drew me to this story was the fake boyfriend angle but there is SO MUCH more to this story! These two have such great individual stories but together, their relationship is AMAZING! You’ll laugh, you’ll swoon and you will most definitely cry. And Nyrae Dawn writes some of the best New Adult stories around.
If you like stories with strong character growth, try Crushed (Redemption Trilogy #1) by Lauren Layne
I’ll admit, I didn’t like either of these leads when I first started the book but their individual growth was fantastic. By the end, not only was I rooting for them but I could actually respect them as characters.
If you want a high school-new adult bridging novel, try Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits Series #1) by Katie McGarry
Ok, I tried really hard not to repeat any titles from my previous list but I just HAD to include this one. It reads like a NA novel in terms of the maturity but features high schoolers; an unlikely combination. But this story is so compelling and will definitely tug on your heart strings. Warning though, it is a darker read so be sure you are in the right mood!
If you like small towns stories, try the Sea Breeze Series by Abbi Glines
The appeal of a small town is that you get to know all the characters in the subsequent novels and that things also move at a different pace. I could have easily picked Glines’ Rosemary Beach series (it was on my previous list) but this one doesn’t have the often soap-opera-esque drama that is in Rosemary Beach. It’s just a really cute series that you will devour as soon as you start.
If you like “loved you since high school” romances, try Just a Little Crush (Crush Trilogy #1) by Renita Pizzitola
I love the idea that the person you secretly crushed on in high school was crushing on you at the same time. Now, maybe years later, you meet again and your crushes are revealed. It’s just an adorable premise to me. This one is your typical NA romance, the bad boy player meets his match in an innocent girl. Yes, some aspects were predictable but they characters are likeable and the formula simply works to make an enjoyable read.
If you want a story that starts as YA but ends as NA, try Slammed (Slammed Trilogy #1) by Colleen Hoover
To be clear, Slammed is YA and it’s sequel Point of Retreat is NA. But Slammed is a fabulous story about family and first love. It reads like YA but it’s just so well done. Not a surprise, since Colleen Hoover is the queen of fantastically heart-wrenching stories (in my opinion).
If you like stories that are sweet not sexy, try For Everly by Raine Thomas
I could have easily picked this for the sports rec, but I thought it worked better for the slow burn, sweet romance. It’s all about the connection for these two and learning to trust. It also has a bit of a suspense element to the plot which rounds out this fantastic novel.
If you just want a really good book, try Until It’s Right by Jamie Howard
Without a doubt, any of Jamie Howard‘s titles are fantastic for those who want to dip their toes into the NA genre. Her Love Unplugged series is one of my favourites! But this was the first novel of hers I read and I LOVED it. The characters are so real; the romance just melts you heart and the story is just so good. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll feel every emotion. It’s just a beautiful story and one that I consider to be NA at its finest.
Honestly, it was hard to stop this post after 16 recommendations! I have so many lists of my favourite tropes and what novels have them. So if you are looking for something specific, feel free to ask.
Are you a New Adult fan? Why or why not?