I’m a few months in, and I’ve finally discovered the secret to New Adult’s success: it’s like crack. Seriously, these books are crack-tastic. Your first hit is good, great, maybe outstanding, and you push on, striving for that next high. Maybe your next book is a winner; maybe it’s not. But you keep pushing, convinced the next book is the one that’ll give you that amazing high, and when you find it, all your beliefs are reaffirmed.
Sorry. Moved this week, and my brain isn’t functioning at full capacity.
Anyway, the other, more obvious secret is this: sequels or series. Yes, there are occasionally standalones (Price of a Kiss was one I read recently), but more and more authors are writing multiple books within the same world. I’ve found three types: the series, the sequel, and the alternate POV.
A series uses characters introduced in one book but gives them their own story. They can usually be read by themselves. Take, for example, Jen Frederick’s Woodlands series. Book one, Undeclared, was the story of Grace and Noah. Grace spent years writing to Noah, a Marine deployed overseas. Her excitement that his tour is finally ending turns to hurt when he cuts off communication with her, and when he turns up at Central two years later, she’s furious – and still hurting.
Book two, Unspoken, gives us Bo’s story, pairing him with AnnMarie, or AM, the girl who has been labeled the campus slut. One drunken mistake leads to rumors and scathing insults, but Bo doesn’t care. There’s something about AM that he’s drawn to, and despite his own inability to maintain a relationship, he pursues one with AM.
What I loved about both books was the lack of tortured past for the characters involved. Grace’s hesitation and doubts about Noah’s true intentions are founded solely in the fact that he didn’t speak to her for two years. Two. Fucking. Years. I’d be angry and hurt, too, if someone I cared for, and thought cared for me, suddenly stops talking to me and then just randomly pops back up and is all, hey, so, let’s just pick up where we left off! (Said no one ever.) The way their relationship progressed was natural and full of the expected mistrust and stops and starts you’d get from how things ended so abruptly between them the first time.
With Unspoken, I had to suspend belief a little. I attended a small college, but I don’t remember the rumor mill being as vicious as Central’s. That said, those rumors were AM’s issue. There wasn’t anything from her past haunting her (although Bo did have a biiiig problem with his family), and I loved Bo’s response to AM’s supposed reputation – skepticism. As the story progressed, it reminded me a lot of 13 Reasons Why, the way whispers and nudges and looks will chip away at you over time to break you down. Because AM herself said it wasn’t one big thing. It was little things, over weeks, that kept her off campus and to herself. We’re also introduced to another of Noah and Bo’s Marine buddies, and if book 3 isn’t about him, I might have a conniption.
Honestly, I may have a conniption anyway, but it’ll likely be over something else. Like unpacking the kitchen.
Anyway. Verdict? Jen Frederick’s Woodlands series is made of win.
Next up is the sequel. I picked up Krista and Becca Ritchie’s Addicted to You after I found the cover for Ricochet on a New Adult new releases list over on Goodreads. Lily’s a sex addict. Her best friend and fake boyfriend, Lo, is an alcoholic. Together they enable each other and have convinced themselves they’re not hurting anyone with their addictions – because they’ve isolated themselves. But people start poking at the bubble they’re living in, threatening to pop it wide open. Their story continues in Ricochet. Lo’s gone to rehab, Lily’s about to hit rock bottom, and the next three months is going to test the bonds of their relationship like nothing before.
Okay. FIrst off, major props to the Ritchie sisters for creating a believable sex addicted character. I’m not an expert by any means, but Lily’s behavior, craving the high she gets from an orgasm, the shame she feels after each anonymous encounter, how she’ll go to almost extreme lengths to prevent anyone from finding out her secret, all played as realistic for me. Lily and Lo’s relationship was extremely co-dependent, but necessarily so. They’ve spent so long enabling each other, being the other’s secret keeper, faking a normal relationship for their families, that for them to be anything else wouldn’t have worked. And seeing Lo cover for Lily time and again, even though he was quite obviously in love with her (like, for reals, yo) was touching and a little sad.
The books have some issues, some grammatical, some developmental, but overall, it’s an engaging series. And like the Woodlands, there’s not much in the way of tortured past. There’s some that comes to light as the story progresses, and it’s all within the realm of plausibility for someone with an addiction. Final verdict? The Addicted series is also made of win, and I’m looking forward to Addicted for Now, out next month.
I have to confess I haven’t actually read any books that fall into this last category, the alternate point of view. Partly because I haven’t had time to read them, and partly because I’m not entirely certain how necessary they are. I mean, do we really need to know the entire story retold from the hero’s point of view? Still, there is one I’m looking forward to (Until You, the follow up to Penelope Douglas’ Bully) and there are more out there for those who want to explore them – J. Lynn’s Trust in Me, Tara Brown’s Lost Boy, and Katy Evans’ Remy (out next month). Verdict? I can’t make one until I’ve actually read one, and it’s likely to be a case by case sort of thing. In the case of Until You, I think there’s a lot to Jared’s motivations that didn’t come out in Bully that make me want to know just what’s going on in that fucked up head of his. But do I need to have Brooke and Remy’s story rehashed? Wait. That’s a bad example, considering the issues I had with Real. So, um…oh hell. I don’t know. Case by case, baby. Case by case.
It’s official, though: I’m a New Adult convert. I don’t think I’m going to stop reading this new category any time soon.
Copy of Unspoken provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.