Young adult (YA) fiction has become increasingly “adultized” due to a trend of “spicy” reads on TikTok, which have replaced works like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.
Books such as A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (both based in the US), and The Spanish Love Deception by Spanish writer Elena Armas, which contain adult themes and Explicit scenes are popular recommendations. in the application.
Avid readers of the platform often rate their daring literary finds with a red chili emoji based on how likely a reader is to find sensual themes and dynamics.
Young adult fiction is aimed at readers aged 12 to 18 and aims to bridge the gap between children’s and adult books, but its teenage audience now appears to be exposed to an increasing amount of obscenity.
It is the fastest growing literary genre: it will reach almost £9 billion in sales globally by 2022.
A TikTok user from Germany joked that she thought The Love Hypothesis was “just a cute romance book,” but it’s an example of increasingly “adult” fiction.
And more than half of the readers who choose to read YA books are, in fact, over 18 years old, according to Qualified wordswhich may be due, in part, to content that appeals to a larger audience.
Previous classic examples of YA fiction include Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, and John Green’s books, which worked to bring “adult” concepts such as politics, mortality, and self-discovery to an audience. younger. .
But now the genre consists predominantly of what is known as “romantasy” – romantic fantasy, and the predominance of racy subplots has left little room for those with other interests.
Some of the content is also difficult to spot, as books like Love Hypothesis have inconspicuous and even cartoon-like covers, meaning readers may not know what they’re getting into.
“Tell me why this was in our school library in the science section,” said one TikTok commenter about Love Hypothesis, which includes a very explicit sex scene.
One of the quieter passages says: ‘His palm pressed against her spine and Olive arched a little further. A kind of offering. “That’s probably an insult,” she breathed out with a smile, “considering you only like wheatgrass and broccoli.”
Another from Germany, under the username @lunaalovegood, joked in a video who started reading it thinking it was just a “nice romantic book.”
Meanwhile, the works of Sarah J. Maas are now considered ‘New Adult’, for readers aged 18-29, although they were first published in the YA category.
In A Court of Mist and Fury, the second book in her romantic fantasy series “A Court of,” heroine Feyre says, “I could die for this… for the pleasure of being with him,” during a particularly raunchy scene. . .
Ndah Tatani Mbawa, owner of book subscription service Happier Every Chapter, told FEMAIL that they launched a new box specifically for 13-14 year olds due to the difficulty of getting content for teenagers.
“I despair at the themes of books aimed at children over 13,” he said. ‘It’s clear to see where the themes of YA books are going and, in my opinion, it’s too adult for something aimed at children.
‘My daughters are prolific readers and some of the books they have put on their reading list have surprised me.
Some of the popular books have inconspicuous covers: Ali Hazelwood’s The Love Hypothesis looks innocuous with its cartoon-style design.
TikTokers have been sharing their recommendations for ‘spicy’ reads for young readers and new adults.
“When our oldest daughter turned 13 and I learned about the books that were marketed to her age group, I realized what a big problem there was.”
Ndah hopes to return to more traditional young adult fiction in her Book Wolves subscription box, exploring topics such as mental health awareness, dystopian books, and other age-appropriate content.
He added: ‘Lately, trends on Booktok have had a big impact on what authors publish. Some authors will include adult-themed scenes that are not relevant or add value to the plot just to follow the trend and generate sales.
‘As teenagers use TikTok a lot, they are attracting their attention with these snappy videos that don’t go into much detail about the content of the book and children buy and read them without pretensions.
“It’s worse in some cases when the books have covers of cartoon characters like Icebreaker (by Hannah Grace) with very adult themes and this can be quite misleading.”
But author Charley Crocker said she doesn’t care what her kids read, as long as they keep reading a book.
She explained: ‘I let my teenagers read YA and my 16-year-old son has been reading Cassandra Clare since he was 13. Sometimes they re-read something more for younger teens, sometimes they read adult memoirs. I do not have any problem with that.
‘I’m happy you read! My 16-year-old son says it’s good to start being aware of the adult themes, as long as they’re part of the story and not just adding shock or ticking a box.’
Books such as A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood contain adult themes.
YA author Alexandra Christo said The Guardian: ‘There is an increase in younger readers engaging with ‘new adult’ or adult books because they are now easier to find thanks to the success of social media marketing.
‘A bigger problem is that the definition of what is or isn’t an adult book has become blurred and many books use marketing based on similar tropes across audiences, making things confusing for potential readers.
“When clips and content are often short and focus on fun topics without going into real details, it’s hard to know who the target audience is for a given book.”
British publisher Simon & Schuster said: “It is important to us that our books reach the right readers and, as part of this, we are conscious that they are age-appropriate.”
“We include warnings about explicit content and make it clear when the books are for adult readers.”
Young adult books have been the fastest-growing category over the past five years, with print unit sales increasing 48.2 percent since 2018, according to Classified words – with an increase of more than a quarter during the pandemic.