As I may have mentioned, I am currently in the process of submitting my new adult* novel to various independent publishers. I am also working on drafting two new projects -- a contemporary young adult novel and another new adult.
Because of my new-ish fascination with the new adult category, I've been reading a lot of new adult lately. I mean ... a lot.
And I've come to a conclusion -- I don't really love it. Which is kind of a problem since I love the idea of writing it.
At first, I thought maybe I just had accidentally one-clicked a few bad eggs. So I read more. And more. And more.
And even though I have found a handful of new adult novels that I genuinely like and would recommend to others (seriously -- email me if you want some suggestions), I've found even more that kill me. Seriously, kill me. The jokester in me seriously can barely resist blogging all my thoughts on every ridiculous characterization, ludicrous set up, and saw-it-coming-from-a-mile-away plot twist.**
So here's some general beefs I have with new adult. Feel free to disagree with any of them or all of them.
1. Dangerous situation that forces the love interests into close proximity.
Look, there is always an exception to the rule, but in general, no one believes that a 20 year old who has been recently diagnosed with Celiac's disease needs to move into her her hot physics TA's house so he (and only he!) can keep her away from the dangers of wheat.
Realistic dangerous situations are fine, but you have to ask yourself--is this really the only solution to this dangerous situation? (Most of the time -- no, it isn't. And if it isn't, what was the point other than to artificially raise the romantic stakes?)
And if the situation isn't actually dangerous ... yikes.
Please rethink this trope altogether, NA writers of the world.
2. Everyone is super awesome at sex.
Virgins! Sufferers of PTSD! Strangers! There is no scenario in which sexytimes cannot be had, and had SUPER SUCCESSFULLY!
Look, I know most of these books fall squarely within the romance genre, and in romance, you don't have funny-awkward sex scenes.
But maybe some New Adult should. Because if I read one more book where another recent attempted sexual assault victim virgin who's dating the dean of her college (who has emotional abandonment issues after his mother's death from Parkinsons, natch) are INSTANTLY AMAZEBALLS in the sack, I'm going to throw it.
And that will be super sad, because I only buy these books on my Kindle.
3. Woman. Man. Blech.
Look, I may be closing in on 30 here, but I remember college very well. And none of us ... and I do mean NONE OF US ... ever referred to the people we were dating as "men" and "women." It was the same as high school -- guys and girls.
There is nothing that will squick me out faster than a supposedly 20-something guy talking about his amazing "woman." Gag.
4. Inappropriate relationships with no consequences.
Everyone has that friend (or was that friend) who dated a professor in college, who got involved with a coworker, or who had a string of inappropriate one-night-stands.
And these relationships usually ended in tears and recriminations.
And even when they did not, there was lots of unpleasantness along the way to happily-ever-after.
And no, that unpleasantness was not limited to "eep, we can't tell anyone about our relationship because it must remain seeeeeeecret!"
5. The death of feminism / The hypermasculinization of men.
You guys. YOU GUYS.
Don't write books with slut shaming. Don't write books where the female main character (and perhaps one female friend) are the only "cool" girls and all other girls "suck." I mean, do we have to continue discussing this?
Just. Don't. It's super gross.
And don't write write heroes that abuse women and call it romantic. Don't write male characters that assault other men in the name of "chivalry," especially if they don't face any legal consequences for that behavior. Don't conflate self-destructive behavior with "masculine" behavior. Don't write codependence and call it vulnerability.
And if you don't want every woman in the world to have to aspire to a photoshopped, impossible-to-obtain standard of physical female perfection? Don't write male characters with effortless six-packs, rock-hard pecs, and tattoos that would make the Pope weep from the sheer beauty.
* "New adult," for the people who read my blog for the Spencer pics and funny dating stories, is an emerging category of fiction that focuses on college-aged protagonists.
** For the record, some of these cliches may sound familiar because a few NA books executed them first, and sometimes well ... and then everyone scrambled to copy them, almost-never-well.