Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Friday News: BN shares 10 biggest book spoilers; Calibre gets...

First, I have to apologize for some of the giveaway rafflecopters. Rafflecopter allows us to use templates and I didn’t realize I was leaving in “Tell us your favorite New Adult” in so many of them.  Blergh. I will be more careful in the future.


What will it take to convince the general public that the term YA is a meaningful label for a valuable genre that encompasses a wide variety of interests and has the same fluctuations in style, complexity, and merit as any other genre of writing?

How many people avoided reading or purchasing Warm Bodies because they associated it with the YA label? How many bought it because of it?” Read Now Sleep Later

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. jmc
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 07:19:21

    On “The One” or “The Love of Your Life” — as much as I enjoy the trope in fiction (and liked that article), in real life I appreciate Dan Savage’s position on “The One”: that there isn’t a one necessarily but there there are a bunch of .6s and .7s and so on. And when we fall in love, we round that .7 up to 1.

  2. Carolyne
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 07:33:01

    Whatever the ages of the two main characters of Warm Bodies, that book is classic, straight down the center YA in its attitude, concerns, sensibilities, hopes, tropes, and level of understanding of the world. Level of complexity isn’t–or shouldn’t–be the defining factor. Many YAs are less complex because they specifically target the youngest young adults. Many books–plots, character arcs–for adults are less complex because, hey, we just want a light read.

    The only reason to reject the label is to believe it’s a stigma that will narrow the audience–which it will. I can see many adults who don’t have a taste for the typical tone and outlook of a YA book thinking of “Warm Bodies” that it’s interesting that the character must go through this journey, but it’s a journey the reader would have processed at the YA stage of life. And therefore is the sort of thing that resonates more with that age group of readers.

    Well, I have lots of thoughts on YA and New Adult :) I recently read “Warm Bodies” (and then saw the movie several months later to compare). It never occurred to me at any point to think of the book as anything other than YA, even though there’s no way to know some of the characters’ ages.

  3. Helen
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 08:21:56

    I actually think it is a mistake to lump everything into YA the way it is being done now if the character is 18 or younger. Given the way it is done now 1/2 the sci-fi and fantasy I read in my 20’s would have been lumped in YA now and back then I NEVER would have found it because I never even looked in the young adult section of the bookstore (nor would it have occurred to me to do so) Books by Tanith Lee,C.S. Friedman, Cooper, Weisman etc… I only read YA now because as a teacher I wanted to know what my students were talking about and since I actually liked a lot of the main stream teen books I kept reading them. However, when reading some of them I thought they would get a much bigger draw if they were shelved in other places. Some like Kristin Cashore’s, Sarah Maaas, and R.L Lafevers books clearly belong in fantasy not young adult although they can certainly be read by young adults (as much fantasy and sci-fi was by me when I was a teen), they are clearly NOT young adult books but that is where you find them now. I think this actually does a disservice to the books because they will most likely never be found by a group of people who would actually love them. However, they are being found by a group of readers who has most likely never read sci/fi or fantasy before…My theory on the whole thing is this- (and remember it is just a theory!)
    When I go the the YA section in a book store I see very few actual YA shopping there. It is mostly women shopping in that section (and a lot of them). I think publishers have discovered if they put sci/fi, fantasy, paranormal, horror (etc) books in the YA section women will buy them. If they put them in their genre section…women don’t buy them (at least not as much). I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been standing in a YA section and started a conversation with another woman about a book that is clearly fantasy and mentioned a great one that I know they would love if they like the book series they are holding. As we walk over to fantasy to get it I get the round eyes and the “I don’t read books from this section” speech. Really. It has happened many times. I always say but the books you’ve been reading ARE fantasy.
    That was kind of a long ramble, sorry!

  4. Becky
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 09:40:16

    Demonizing of the first husband or wife drives me crazy–at least in widow/widower stories. So many times I’m reading along, everything is going just fine, when–bam! The H/h suddenly realizes that what they thought they had with their first spouse was all a lie, NOW they know what it really is to love, blah blah blah. It’s made me bump ratings way down from what I was originally planning, because it’s usually just so unnecessary. Why can’t people have more than one good, true love in their lives if they choose to be open to it, both in fiction and in life?

  5. Isobel Carr
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 10:25:24

    I’m with Helen, huge parts of my teen reading was SFF with YA-age protagonists (many of my comfort reads still are [The Blue Sword, The Snow Queen, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Dragonflight]), but it wasn’t labeled YA. I’ve had this discussion on twitter about why NA seems to be limited to romance. Because NA in SFF is just SFF. There’s no reason or desire in that reader base to further segregate by age of protagonist (and this is true for a lot of YA-age protagonists too).

    I read Warm Bodies after seeing the movie. The movie is very YA, which left me surprised that the narrator of the book was clearly MUCH older than he was in the movie. I’m not entirely sure why that book is labeled as YA, and I agree with the author that it really isn’t an appropriate designation. But that may be because I read it with my SFF glasses not my romance glasses.

  6. library addict
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 10:49:25

    It always makes me question the judgment of the hero or heroine if their first spouse was such a horrible person. I have read enough his-first-wife-cheated-so-all-women-are-evil-except-the-virgin-heroine stories to last a few lifetimes. I always find it refreshing when the h/h were happily married before. Or where one of them is divorced but on friendly terms with their ex.

    I :heart: Calibre too much to ever leave it. I know I probably don’t use half its capabilities. But it is so customizable, bug fixes/new releases weekly, plus the support one gets at MobileRead and Kovid directly . Talk about a one true love, Calibre is it! ;)

  7. Carolyne
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 10:55:15

    @Isobel Carr: I’ve always been an avid SF&F reader, and then, in later years, heavily involved in the YA market, so that’s something I’ve thought a lot about. To me, what makes something YA isn’t the age of the protagonist, but the approach to the world and the weight given to different aspects of understanding it. And even certain tropes, for good or ill. Elementary-age books sometimes throw an emphasis on the huge injustice and unfairness of things you can’t control, written at a level of understanding that someone that age can grasp– “you can’t control when you go to bed and whether you can have a puppy,” rather than “you can’t control the amount of joy your partner is getting from your relationship after thirty years.” Middle Grade books might focus on the first navigation through complex social situations.

    The big reason, imo, New Adult is so focussed on romance at the moment is because writers to want to tackle more mature sexual and relationship issues than the market allows in a book about 15 year olds. And because there was no market category for a contemporary with a 19- or 20-year-old protagonist other than, perhaps, “literary fiction.”

    A fantasy novel with a fourteen-year-old protagonist might focus on her growing maturity in a complex world and her coming into strange powers–and might do that with circumstances and concerns that echo junior-high cliques and bff worries and body image issues and hormone-charged confusion; or they might echo a larger metaphysical self-journey. Or it might only be about chopping the head off the evil dragon and getting the crown.

    I think my point is that the “YA-ness” of a book is nothing to do with the age of the protagonist. As for Warm Bodies, I think many people are trained to see Romeo & Juliet spinoffs as the realm of teenage readers/viewers (never mind the original inspirational source). R’s reconnection after being stripped away from all he was could have felt completely different to me, but it read to me as adolescent, not as an adult emptied and beginning again. It’s interesting that other readers got a different sense from it. It’s disheartening to think that it might be considered a bad thing to recognise the YA-ness of his story.

    If I could choose what to change in all this, it would be to make the YA shelves as acceptable to browse as… the SF&F shelves.

  8. LG
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 11:23:38

    @Helen: YA is a category, not a genre. It is quite possible to have YA fantasy, YA science fiction, YA thrillers, etc. I don’t know some of the names you’ve listed, but Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, for example, would be YA fantasy. You don’t usually see YA sections in bookstores divided by genre the way books aimed at adults are divided, but I believe there are some libraries that go the extra mile and at least indicate which genre a YA book falls into, even if they’re not shelved in their own subsections.

  9. helen rudd
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 11:51:56


    Hi LG,
    In years past when YA was not so hot with women (as opposed to a category actually aimed at teens). Cashore’s book would have been shelved in fantasy. My point was that many of the books being shelved in the YA section don’t really belong there. Just because a story has an 18 year old as the protagonist does not make it YA. I think Carolyne sums it up pretty well. There are some tropes that are specific to YA. It is the subject matter and characterizations, plot etc and how they are addressed that make a book young adult not necessarily the age of the main characters.

  10. Isobel Carr
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 12:10:50

    @Carolyne: I don’t see anything wrong with calling a book YA if you think it is. But in this case, the author doesn’t think it is, and I didn’t think it was either. Obviously the publisher thought it was though, or they wouldn’t have marketed it that way (or thought they could get better sales there than in general fiction or SFF where it would have landed otherwise).

    @LG: Helen and I are channeling each other today. I don’t see any reason why Graceling couldn’t be shelved in SFF, except that YA has had an explosion in popularity and there was a marketing decision to place it there instead. Whether or not the YA audience is the books most natural audience is questionable IMO. But I think they’re counting on the fact that YA currently has a larger crossover into adult readers than general SFF does into YA readers.

    None of this is a great moral dilemma though, it’s just marketing. But when we get into NA, the marketing kind of seems to fall apart of genres outside of romance, where readers don’t seem to segregate their book selection by age of protagonist or heat level.

  11. Lindsay
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 12:12:48

    I think that YA-tagged books can sometimes be done a disservice — in my bookstore they’re shelved downstairs directly beside the 8-to-12 books, and beside the kids section (and across from the toys, sigh). The store’s category is also “Teens” so it sounds even more infantilizing. They had to shelve Harry Potter both downstairs in the Teens section, and upstairs in general fiction (why not fantasy? Because that’s off in a corner…) to increase sales, using the adult covers. I think that right there should say something, that a hugely popular series with all age ranges required two sets of covers so that readers weren’t “embarrassed” by the book, even though everyone around them likely had read it as well.

    Ebooks make the lines a lot more blurry, and easily so — I generally don’t even check what category something is listed in, if the blurb or review sounds good, I grab it, then make my own decisions later. As folks have said above, YA was considered the typical age range for so much of SF/F for books I read growing up, I don’t bat an eye at what would be considered contemporary/paranormal/thriller/mystery/etc YA.

    Also, do people really get bored with Calibre? I can see wanting a SIMPLER version, but I’ve just scratched the surface of what it can do, and worry about recommending it to people who aren’t tech-savvy but really want options when it comes to where they buy their ebooks from. A scaled-down version would be amazing for people like my mom or husband, who don’t care about all the formatting tweaks and python scripts, and just want to be able to buy from Kobo AND Amazon…

  12. LG
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 13:06:04

    @Isobel Carr and helen rudd: I don’t necessarily disagree that Graceling would once have been shelved in an Adult Fantasy area, but I also think that YA sections in the past (when they existed at all) were terrible and tended to cater mainly to the absolute youngest end of the teen spectrum. When I was a teen, I moved from the supposed YA section to the Adult section pretty quickly, because there was little there that appealed to me. Had YA areas back then looked the way they do now, I might have actually stuck around longer.

    I also don’t deny the existence of cross-over books. There are plenty of books that appeal to both YA and Adult audiences. I’m just bothered by what seems to be a lack of recognition that YA does contain genres, the same way Juvenile and Adult books do.

  13. Lada
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 14:06:28

    I don’t think I’m a good guinea pig but I played around with BookONO a little today and didn’t find it all that easy to figure out and certainly no replacement for Calibre. Looks like they plan on offering their own cloud services for book storage ($5/month unlimited). Also, so far you can only add epubs. I was unable to access anything from Amazon through the software. I’d definitely recommend waiting for the beta version unless you’re really techie and like playing around.

    Not really excited about Apple making deals with tv networks & distributors considering what they did with publishers. No thanks to exclusive deals with the NFL or anyone else which is what I’m sure they’d love to secure.

  14. Susan
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 15:57:26

    Serious question–does the YA label really have that big of a negative impact on the general public’s access to a book and/or sales? With all the adults reading the Twilight, HP, Hunger Games, etc books, it’s hard for me to see a stigma keeping readers from YA book in droves.

    Thanks for the spoilers. I’ve been on the fence about Gone Girl because so many people seemed peeved about the ending, but I didn’t know what it was. I think I can take it off my wish list now.

  15. Jenny
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 16:11:06

    I honestly don’t know a single person that has ever said “oh I can’t read that because it’s YA.” There are plenty of good, meaty, complex reads in the YA category. It seems to me that all ages are reading YA books now. My mom is the biggest Hunger Games fanatic I know. So clearly the YA stigma isn’t really affecting her and she’s 57 years old.

  16. Helen
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 16:27:12

    I agree, no stigma for YA, but plenty of stigma from women who won’t read something shelved in fantasy or sci/fi or horror but have no problem reading YA even though many of the books should actually be shelved in their respective genres (since many are not really YA). As Isobel says, it is a marketing decision. It is the explosion in popularity of YA that has caused many books to be shelved there that don’t really belong.

  17. rebecca
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 03:14:56


    Why, specifically, do you think the books you mentioned don’t belong in the YA section?

  18. Alethea
    Sep 04, 2013 @ 14:15:19

    I’d love to see what you think! Loving the discussion up here. Someone recently commented on the old blog post again and I had to refrain from responding right away. I’m no good when I let my temper get the best of me.

  19. Alethea
    Sep 04, 2013 @ 14:19:25

    Oh also! I can think of 2 books off the top of my head that I wouldn’t have marketed as YA, had it been my choice to do so: Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan and Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal. Beautifully twisted, occasionally grotesque writing but more adult than YA.

  20. Jane
    Sep 04, 2013 @ 14:36:22

    @Alethea: Never comment when you’re angry. You’ll always regret it.

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