26 Aug 2016

#NAAugust: #GuestPost by Lyssa Chiavari

Over on Books Are My Fandom, we are hosting a full month all about the New Adult genre! There you can read posts from bloggers and authors about what New Adult means to them. On Dani Reviews Things, Dani will be reviewing New Adult books all month! And on here, Books and Ladders, every Monday and Friday, I will be reviewing New Adult books and talking about ones I *have* reviewed and really enjoyed!


Author: Lyssa Chiavari
Series: The Iamos Trilogy #1
Publisher: Lyssa Chiavari
Publication Date: December 29, 2015

IAMOS, S.C.D. 8378
Nadin's planet is dying. As its atmosphere drains away, her people are forced to live huddled in domed cities for protection. With only enough resources to support the population for one more year, time is running out. Nadin thinks she's found a way to save Iamos, but it will mean defying the planet's rulers, the geroi—and betraying the geroi could cost her everything.

When a strange boy from another world appears out of nowhere outside the citidome's glass walls, Nadin knows for sure that her plan will work. But to build the device that can save her people, Nadin must first find the legendary city of Elytherios. And to do that, she'll need the help of the mysterious alien boy named Isaak.

MARS, 2073 C.E.
All Isaak wanted was to get through his senior year at the Academy in one piece. Everything would have been fine if he hadn't found that ancient coin among his missing father's possessions. The coin seems to have a strange connection not only to Isaak's family, but to Mars' ancient past.

But how is that possible, on a planet that was supposed to be dead until just forty years ago?

Now Isaak's got agents of the Earth's government on his tail and a deranged factory worker stalking his every move. Everyone is desperate to get their hands on something called the Key. And the only way to escape is to unlock an even bigger secret, one that could change his life—and the fate of Mars—forever.


What makes a book New Adult? 

We’ve seen some great discussions about the genre this month during #NAAugust, and a lot of it has seemed to boil down to sex. There’s been debate about how much sex NA books should include, whether sex should be a prerequisite for classifying a book as NA, and what the line should be between NA and YA on one side, erotica on the other. Many of the arguments I’ve seen from both sides of the debate have pointed out that sex is important in NA because sex is so integral to the lives of people that age range (18- 30).

But what about when it’s not?

I blogged recently on The Pack of Aces about my college years, and how formative they were to me, much more so than my high school years. And I also mentioned in BAMF’s “What sets YA and NA apart?” discussion that oftentimes the growth and development that is considered YA’s hallmark takes place during the college years rather than high school, because it’s the first time you’re away from your family and the people you grew up with. Outside that insulated environment, you have more freedom to explore your individuality more without pressure or influence from those who affected the earlier stages of your life.

For me, my college years were all about learning how to tell true friends from false ones, to assert my own beliefs and individuality, to stand up to peer pressure and to find confidence in myself as myself. It was also about learning to get by on my own without my parents around, about surviving in a more challenging work environment. It was about growing and changing and coming out of my shell and finding my true self and the kindred spirits I was meant to meet.

But as an asexual person, sex was not a factor in my life. At all.

The asexual movement was just starting to get off the ground a year or two before I started college in 2003, which meant I had only tangential knowledge of it during those years. Though it’s gaining visibility and has been generally accepted now as part of the larger LGBTQ community, many people are still unfamiliar with what asexuality is, so here’s a brief definition: asexuals are people who do not experience sexual attraction. The “ace” umbrella is very wide and also covers people who occasionally experience limited sexual attraction (often called “gray-aces” or “graces”) to demisexuals who only experience sexual attraction after an emotional bond has been formed. Though there has been only a small amount of research done, current estimates guess that people on the asexual spectum make up anywhere from 1-3% of the population, with the figure growing as more awareness is raised about this previously “invisible” orientation.

The spectrum is wide and encompasses people who are actively repulsed by the concept of sex to those who are indifferent to it. There are aces who are interested in dating, who are romantically (not sexually!) attracted to opposite-gender, same-gender, or multiple genders; and there are aromantic aces who are not interested in dating at all. The one thing that we tend to have in common, though, is that sex generally tends to play a very small role in our lives—if it plays one at all.

And here is where I, as an asexual person, have struggled with NA in the past. 

I love the idea of the genre, because college was such an important and formative period for me, but the fact that there was so much emphasis placed on “sexy” (and often relatively explicit) stories felt like a barrier to entry for me. Because that was never my story, and I’m terrible at faking it.

That’s why I am thrilled to see how much the genre has evolved over the last few years, with more room being made for stories that have less sexual content—because not everyone’s story is the same. As time passes and NA continues to get bigger, I would love to see more and more diverse stories, and I’d especially love to see NA books featuring ace characters. YA as a genre has such a vast variety of storytelling, with really something for everyone. NA has so much potential as a genre, so I would love to see it continue to grow and become more and more inclusive, so that there is something for everyone.

Lyssa Chiavari is an author of speculative fiction for young adults, including Fourth World, the first book in a YA sci-fi trilogy set on Mars. Her short fiction has appeared in Ama-Gi magazine, Wings of Renewal, Clarion Call Vol. II, and Perchance to Dream, a young adult collection of Shakespeare retellings which she also edited. When she's not writing—which isn't often—you can usually find her blogging for The Pack of Aces or losing an unreasonable number of life balloons on Donkey Kong.

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