INTO THE WORLD OF ADULT FICTION || An Analysis of My Recent Reading Habits

Not going to lie, I've spent many years scuttling away from adult fiction and being absolutely terrified of it. And while I still get a little woozy turning in the general vicinity of older fiction in the bookstore, there's definitely a diminished sense of fear when it comes to the genre. In fact, most of the books I've read and bought this year have been "adult," books, and my consumption of YA books has decreased pretty significantly. 

Why is this?? 

But I do have some thoughts about why my reading habits have shifted, and a lot of things I've noticed in recent YA trends !! So strap yourselves in and prepare for a long-winded analysis wherein I make uncomplicated things far more complicated than they need to be.

Let's start with breaking down the two genres, shall we?

What IS the difference between Young-Adult, and Adult books? 
The main difference between the genres (and the easiest thing to remember tbh) has to do with the age of the character. So Young-Adult books... follow young-adults. They typically feature books with protagonists ages 13-18, while adult books feature protagonists 18+. If you wanted to get a bit more in-depth in the differences between the two, as related in an article by Swoon Reads, Young-Adult books usually have characters facing problems that are 'firsts,' such as first loves, tackling first real family issues, etc. Adult books show characters that have a bit more life experience under their belt, and who are tackling more mature problems and decisions. 

To put it in a simple metaphor: YA books are kind of like the super young kids still learning words and how to play nice with others, while Adult books are the heathen five year olds who run around screaming all day. 

(Which I relate to on a spiritual level because NO I do not want to talk about college and taxes, THANK YOU.)

And I mean, don't get me wrong, I am still very much a child who is facing firsts in her life!! (I watch Lilo and Stitch religiously, and would probably be way too satisfied if you sat me in the corner with a piece of paper + some crayons and let me color for the foreseeable future) BUT, I'm definitely at the older end of the spectrum when it comes to young-adult books. I've found that I have a much harder time relating to 13/14/15 yr old protagonists, and that their problems and reactions to said problems, are something I relate to very little. This is probably because I've already gone through a lot of it myself and don't feel like it's something I personally need help with anymore, or need to revisit. Or, y'know, I just somehow avoided the issue all together (looking @ you high school). Of course, there's still a lot of fantastic things in YA books, and that's one of the reasons they appeal to a huge audience of older readers. And I've read a nice chunk of YA books this year that definitely carried more mature themes and relatable protagonists! There's been great increased mental illness and LGBTQIA+ representation! Characters are not all white anymore!! And there's been several books about fandoms, too. Umm can I get a hell yes? 

But while there's been a few stellar books out this year, there's still a much larger relatability gap between me and YA books than there has been in previous years. I think a lot of me turning to more "mature" fantasy + contemporary has to do with the fact that a lot of YA books feel trite to me. I've read about the lost princess reclaiming her throne a dozen times. I've seen the special snowflake trope more times than I've ventured out of the house, and the thought of one more prophecy/16 year old discovering they have powers, makes me want to curl up and cry. And let's not mention the whole high school contemporary thing, shall we?

There's a lot of new in YA, especially this year, but there's also a lot of old and recycled stories, particularly in fantasy. I don't know why that doesn't seem to translate into the world of adult literature, but I've found I've been absolutely overwhelmed by all the uniqueness and care that goes into the genre. Of course, every story is recycled in some part, but I've found that a lot of books, like The Lies of Locke Lamora, do something so insanely fresh and neat with old lore and tropes. It almost seems to me like there's this presumption in the publishing world that the old tropes are the only thing that sells in Young-Adult books. That's true to a tiny extent, as I would literally buy anything that has to do with witches and assassins, but for the most part, the repetition of stories is what has largely turned me and others away from the genre. I want unique stories, darn it, and right now, the Young-Adult genre is putting out few and far between. While I'll absolutely still be consuming Young-Adult books, I definitely feel that this year is one where I'll be turning to more mature books to get a break from the monotony, and read something a bit more unique.

NOW LET'S CHAT. Do you think Young-Adult books have lost some of their originality over the years? What do you think about adult fantasy/more mature books? Discuss with me!


  1. ADI YES, YOU AND ME BOTH. I turned to adult books this year FINALLLLYLYYYY and I'm so pleased with the fact that I enjoy them. I absolutely agree with you that there is totally a lot of new YA this year, like don't get me wrong I'm all about the rep and I will read that rep all day everyday, but in particular, I feel that I'm kind of, for the most part at least, a bit exhausted with MOST YA fantasy. That's not to say I'm not going to continue to read every book Cassandra Clare publishes in the shadowhunter world, I'm to committed to it at this point to stop tbh, but I'm just getting tired of the same story over and over as far as fantasy.
    Also, you'll be pleased to know, I FINISHED THE HATING GAME and I related so fracken hardcore to it that I was uncomfortable. Like, wow. This is literally going to be my life in about 3.79 seconds?? Also, flamethrower red lipstick is totally my jam. I may or may not be a total lipstick junkie and ahhhhh. But i'm going to review that one on my blog so we can discuss my lipstick probs there.
    Like, I am so down for new YA such as when dimple met rishi and all the becky albertalli (although i haven't read any of those yet probs because i think city of heavenly fire is partially to blame for my slump), but those are new YA books I can totally get behind and root for.
    Basically, we're on the same page.
    Thoughtful and lovely post, adi! :)

  2. I also prefer adult books to YA! Maybe it's because I've been reading adult books since I was 9 or 10 (the Discworld series, classics like Little Women and Gulliver's Travels), so I kind of went straight from kid's to adult's and skipped the stage where I was at the mental place to read YA books. (I feel like a pretentious character right out of a John Green book rn, agh.) As a result, I tend to gravitate to adult books when I want thoughtful content that stretches my mind and middle-grade when I want a thrilling, fun fix. In fact, I don't think I read any YA until I joined the blogging community!

    I've talked about this before, but I think the reason I don't have a lot of favorite YA books is that YA is a very fragile, precarious tightrope between MG and adult. That makes it very easy to get wrong, to be too mature or too childish or something of the sort. We mature a lot in our teenage years, and who we are at 13 is wildly different from who we are at 19. Like you said, that can make it hard to find YA books that appeal equally to both ends of the spectrum, even though it's a much smaller range than adult.

    I do agree that it seems like YA books are mostly the same, but maybe those are just the ones that get famous/blogged about the most? Maybe it IS a problem with the genre, though; I'm too far under my rock to tell.

    I would argue that LGBT+ rep, POC characters, and mental illness aren't necessarily "mature" themes. I don't think that's what you meant, but I just want to clarify! I think that even though they're often handled in heavy, mature ways (ex. The Hate U Give, It Looks Like This) since they can open the door to mature discussions, there are still many middle-grade, children's, and lighthearted YA (ex. When Dimple Met Rishi, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) that deal with those issues in ways that aren't necessarily "mature" or "adult" and shouldn't be restricted that way.

    Awesome post! This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately, so it's cool to see another blogger is mulling over the same things.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

  3. I very much agree with YA books having lost a lot of their originality. Part of me says that it's such a huge genre, and therefore you can't expect a great deal of originality at this point... But then, as you said, the adult genre manages to do it, so why can't the YA genre do the same?

    I read adult books from time to time, but I have really sunk into the YA fantasy genre again lately. I'm terrible for getting into reading ruts these days, so I'm afraid that if I branch out too much, I'll get bored with whatever I'm reading, and fall into another rut again! I'll keep an eye on what you're reading, though, and hopefully something will come up that catches my interest!

    This was a really great post. I'm definitely going to be thinking about it when I'm picking up my next read!

    Shaunna @ Shaunna Writes

  4. I definitely have begun to gravitate towards adult books more and.more frequently as of late. I am just fed up with the tropes I constantly see in YA - the brooding bad boy, girl meets guy, the chosen one etc. A lot of cliches are being recycled over and over, and I think that YA just needs to take a step back and do something new.

    However, I do think YA is great in terms of its increasing diversity. The first trans character I ever read (fairly recently too) was in a YA book, and I'm proud of all the books nowadays that celebrate difference and embrace diversity for the wonderful thing it is.

    Of course I also see this is adult books. But I've only just began to dip my toe in the deep end, and I'd like to read more.

  5. I COMPLETELY understand what you're saying here! There are a lot of over-used tropes, but there are some books every once in a while that are truly unique and absolutely amazing. I find adult books more boring if I'm being completely honest, but also I'm still a teen myself so I can relate to the books more.


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