Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Adult: Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 with 38 comments
 photo 3ded878b-5bd3-4bad-91cb-8d062d91ab1d_zpsc4b7116e.jpgSo, now that April's joined the blog, we can have candid discussions about all things book-related and then post the results here for you guys to comment on.  This week, it seems that April has a special dislike for New Adult novels, so that's what we're going to kick things off with.

*Disclaimer:  This topic is not suitable for some of our younger audience.  While we try to remain family-friendly, there are times when we may need to be graphic to get the point across. We don't mean to offend anyone, but we really wanted to have an honest conversation about New Adult.

April:  I haven't read all the new adult books out there, but I've read quite a few and the things we discuss below I've noticed in a lot of them.

Jen:  I honestly haven't read all that many new adult novels because I'm so wary of them and these tropes...

A:  #1 - The guy is often a musician/rock star or just a bad boy with tattoos.

J:  This. One notable exception is the Losing It series by Cora Carmack. In the second book, the roles are reversed and it's actually the female love interest that's a musician and covered in tattoos.

A:  #2 - The love interest is almost always a jerk.

J:  Yes, why are women drawn to men who treat them badly? I mean, I know plenty of women who are this way, so it's a legitimate issue, but maybe if we didn't portray it in fiction as if it were alright, women would feel they deserve the love of someone better than that.

A:  #3 - They both have emotional baggage. A lot of it!

J:  I don't think anyone's without some amount of baggage, but you're right. The protagonists in these new adult stories have more than their fair share. And it always seems like it's being used as a plot device to keep them from the love interest.

A:  #4 - The female is often weak and needs protection from the guy. Even if she's a cheating scum ball. (Example:  Torn by K.A. Robinson)

J:  Apparently, all men love a damsel in distress. I prefer female leads to have a sense of independence and the ability --or at the very least, the desire -- to take care of herself.

A:  #5 - Sex is the main focus of the relationship. Which I kinda get because I was a little promiscuous back
in the early days, but even in my prime, I did not have sex THAT MUCH.

J:  I think you may have just hit upon the thing that bothers me most about new adult novels. I am not a prude. I do not mind reading a sex scene or two in the middle of a good book. But I hate when sex scenes are just thrown in gratuitously. They need to belong at that point in the book, and they need to be realistic. I found this post on what not to write in a sex scene from Smart Bitches Trashy Books to be highly entertaining.

A:  #6 - Love confused with lust. This happens in adult and I suppose some young adult novels, too, but it's over abundant in new adult. When all they are doing is having sex, it's hard to believe they have any kind of true emotional connection.

J:  Like I said, I haven't read nearly as many new adult novels as April, so I can't comment on this one, except to say that I think that most love starts out with at least a tiny bit of lust. I think that it's when the lust doesn't grow into love that it becomes an issue.

A:  #7 - College students, but there's no talk of college. I read a few that took place at the college, while the student was going to college, but there was barely any talk of college itself. How can you have a character going to school for a whole year and have no idea what they are even there for? Like they went to class. But what class? Doesn't matter, there was a hottie a few rows back.

J:  This is another pet peeve of mine, but I don't think it's strictly limited to new adult. It's a problem in young adult, too. And I get why there's not a lot of talk about class because it's pretty boring, unless something actually happens besides the learning. But I don't think it's asking too much for characters to interact within the classroom setting.

A:  #8 - The females are virgins! Not always, but a majority of the ones I've read are, for example:  Like Falling by Jaden Wilkes and True by Erin McCarthy. And the first time is always mind blowing O's! Get real!

J:  Haha...that virginity thing is just ridiculous. How many college-aged women do you know or have you known that were still virgins when they got to campus? I'm sure there are some -- and I'm sure that my parents would prefer to think that I was still a virgin when I moved out of the house, or even better, that I was still a virgin until the day I married my husband, ha! But that's not the way of the world. I think it's terribly unrealistic to portray probably 90% of new adult protagonists as virgins when so many young adults are using those formative teen years for practice. Because, yeah, that first time is not going to be so great, at least not for her.

A:  #9 - Going back to the obnoxious amount of sex being had, it's also pretty raunchy in these new adult books! Particularly the Abbi Gline ones. And you know, I'm not afraid of a little raunchiness. I'm completely okay with joking around about it, but when it comes to sex scenes in books, I prefer it to be meaningful and a little less dirty.

J:  I wholeheartedly agree...as I said before, no gratuitous sex scenes. Make 'em few and make 'em count. If I wanted raunchy, I'd pick up one of my mom's old Harlequin romance novels. And before you ask, yes, that is how I learned about sex. My mom sure as hell wasn't sitting me down to discuss it. I am so glad I had an older sister who could impart some of her wisdom on me in times like these.

A:  #10 - Miscommunication is usually the big conflict in the story. This one thinks this, that one thinks that, they don't talk, they fight, and then they make up and have sex. Because SEX FIXES EVERYTHING!

J:  *sigh* This is true of A LOT of stories. Granted, miscommunication happens...a lot. But in these books, it's as if the characters are KEPT from discussing anything that might put them on even ground. And I dislike that when a couple does fight in one of these stories, it's never about the thing that needs to be discussed. They walk on eggshells around each other, fight about things that don't matter. I haven't really seen all that much of the make-up sex in my limited experience with new adult, so I'll take your word for it.

A:  So there you have it, some of the many reasons I have it out for new adult novels.  In Torn, the girl goes to college with two of her best friends. Her best guy friend is in love with her. She meets a wanna be rock star. They boink, he cuts her off...treats her like total crap. So she dates her best guy friend, boinks him. Then cheats on him with Rocker again. When shit hits the fan, they still both love her and want to protect her from her crazy mom...because she needs protection. GAG

J:  Well, first, I don't like books about cheaters, so already I'm not impressed, but just based on your observations, I don't think that's a new adult I'd ever pick up.

17333880A:  Oh, I've got another little mini-rant:  Those Abbi Glines books have become ridiculous. They are all sex. And to me, it's not sexy sex. In Twisted Perfection, the girl starts gagging on his dick. And he's all loving it.. and she's thinking how she loves to gag on it. That is not sexy. Maybe it's just me, but if I'm gagging, there may be puke following. Lol. It's a shame though because they started out great.. her Sea Breeze books were good, and then While It Lasts came out, and they all started going down hill from there.

What I don't understand is, what is the appeal? These unhealthy relationships based off of mostly sex...why are they so popular? Isn't this what the Erotica genre is for? The Glines books were originally self pubbed, but then Atria bought them. I thought to myself, did these people read them first? I guess that doesn't really matter since they already had a huge fan base.

J:  I was just thinking this...that most new adult novels were self-published first. There's got to be some correlation between the fan-base and the material presented, but I think that if I wanted to read sex, I would have opted for an adult novel rather than a new adult. Unless it's primarily that age group that's reading these and they don't want to read about old people getting it on. And I mean "old" relatively...I'm sure we're ancient to a college freshman and that they think they'll never be in our shoes. Pfft. It happens to everyone. :P

A:  I actually read a book that was originally an erotica but was then branded as new adult. Now that thing made Abbi's books look like the bible.  The title on Amazon says New Adult May December Romance. Not so much. This girl does her best friend's dad. Then the best friend asks how it was while masturbating with the friend. The friend even does it with the dad while the daughter is asleep in the bed next to them. It's clearly Erotica but the New Adult genre has become so widespread that books are being put out there with that label just to get attention.

They aren't all bad though. Colleen Hoover's stuff is great. I even enjoyed Nyrae Dawn's new adult series, Games. They have the characters with baggage but they are genuine and there is sexy times, but it doesn't over-pollute the plot. Oh, and the K.A. Tucker books. I like those. Ten Tiny Breaths wasn't my favorite, but I loved One Tiny Lie. Also, Easy by Tammara Webber was good.  I'm on a quest to find more decent New Adult. I know there are some out there. I bought Jamie McGuire's Beautiful Disaster because it's raved about. We shall see though.

J:  I haven't read many, but I've had pretty good luck with the ones I have picked up, like those from Colleen Hoover, Cora Carmack, and K.A. Tucker. Two of my favorites, though, are Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and One & Only by Viv Daniels.  I'm not even sure that Fangirl is technically supposed to be new adult, but it fits the bill...except for all of the gratuitous sex.  There isn't any of that, and I think the book is better because of it.  I think new adult novels are supposed to focus on that transitional time in a young adult's life, not just the sex, and Fangirl succeeds in that aspect where many others have failed.  In One & Only, there's a bit of sex, but there's also a focus on the protagonist's schoolwork and future career.  It's also written by Diana Peterfreund under a pseudonym.  :)

A:  So that's all I really all I can think of to say about New Adult. It blows. Literally. Like in just about every chapter. Lol.

J:  Bahaha...well, that's one way to put it.  =)


38 comments:

  1. Love this post!! And totally agree. New Adult is so disappointing. I wish they were all like Fangirl. A real story about people who feel real. Not these same freaking cardboard sex stories... blah!! I also just love how these stories about virginal college girls ALSO usually feature a guy who is a male-slut. Like that's a great match right?? It's so frustrating to read as a woman because it's just perpetuating the same old crap that it's disgusting when a woman has sex with different men, but it's hot when men are womanizing. Everyone has sex... get over it!!! And yes if I wanted to read erotica I would BUY erotica! I'm not a prude but I want to read STORIES!!!

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    1. Thank you!! We should have added you to the discussion. You have a good point and Yes!!! what's the deal with the girls being virginal and the guys being sluts. And I'm so excited for Fangirl, Jen is lending me her copy :)

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    2. I wish they were all more like Fangirl, too. I highly recommend One & Only, too, though. Yes, there's sex, but it's not the focus. Diana Peterfreund was writing new adult before it was even given that ridiculous moniker.

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  2. Totally agree on all accounts. Unfortunately, Abbi Glines' books have become the primary repellant for New Adult for me. Let's call it for what it is, it's not New Adult. It's EROTICA. Sheesh.

    Great post, ladies!

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    1. Ya know, initially, I felt like I was missing out because I'd yet to read a novel by Abbi Glines, but I think I might just keep it that way after this discussion. :) And I really kind of despise the term "new adult". You're right...let's just call it what it is.

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    2. Exactly!!! Erotica is Erotica!! :) thank you!

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  3. Great post. I agree with everything there. I have shied away from New Adult, especially the self published, because of all these issues. I don't mind a bad boy, or a clueless girl, or new to everything, but not in every book. and I don't mind a tactful sex scene.But when they are thrown in all over the place and raunchy it gets to me. I think what happened is older teens wanted sex in books maybe but not with an adult level of reading or subject matter so lets write an insta love, realistic fiction, and throw in sex. Not for me. There are a few good ones out there. Fangirl is one of them.

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    1. Thanks, Jenn Renee! I don't mind any of those things either...in moderation. But when every so-called new adult book features them, it gets a bit tiresome. I much prefer a good story, an actual plot, over all of the sex. I'm so glad everyone's on board with Fangirl, though...such a great book! I need to read Attachments now! =)

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    2. Yes, Tactful sex scenes in moderation are great. I enjoy them, when they mean something. When there is actual build up them. I think you might be right in your thinking. Even when I was a teen though I wasn't into the sex scenes, but I was reading adult back thing. I don't remember there being as many Young Adult books out there when I was young.

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  4. I never liked New Adult to begin with. Either you fit into young adult or your an adult there is no in between. It just felt super gimmicky to me and I've stayed away from it as much as possible. Also I completely agree with Joyous Reads comment above.

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    1. I shied away from new adult forever before caving and reading Easy. And that one was fine, but then it seemed like every new adult I picked up followed the same basic premise. They're all just so tropey! I still don't read many NAs, but when I do, I'm very picky about which ones I pick up. And I also completely agree with Joyous Reads Erotica is erotica and that's that. :)

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    2. you are so right. It's very gimmicky.

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  5. Great post, I totally agree. These days I'm afraid to pick up a New Adult book, it's like the whole plot revolves around sex. I don't mind if there is sex in a book but when the whole story is based on it and when it's the only thing the characters practicly do during the entire book then thanks but no. But from time to time I still read one just in case that it turns out to be a book I like. And I've read some good New Adult books like Positively Mine (Freshman Forty) and Out of Tune (this one got a musician in it, but he played guitar in a country band so not really a rockstar hahah). So I've not given up entirely on New Adult books.

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    1. Yeah, I don't think I'll give up on the genre completely because there are a few really good ones out there, but I'm just going to continue to be super-picky about which ones I do pick up. Thanks for the recommendations...I'll have to check those out! I love a good country boy, too, so that one might just be right up my alley. =)

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    2. I'm going to add those recs to my goodreads right now. Thank You. And the sex is the main reason I am hesitant to pick them up! I love a good sex scene in a book I'm reading but cannot be only sex. And it's true, these book plots revolve around sex that that is just not cool.

      Like you I also won't completely give up on the New Adult books, because there are gems mixed in with garbage and I would hate to miss out on something special.

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  6. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. It's great to know that we are not alone in this New Adult venture. Since I've read a bunch of the mentioned books with April, I agree wholeheartedly. April and I have similar tastes in books and it cool to see all the comments of other people agreeing. Good job ladies. You are both extremely awesome. Mwah!

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    1. Aw, thanks! I'm glad we didn't offend anyone with this post...we both know a lot of people who do happen to enjoy this genre, and it's nothing against them. We just prefer a little more story and a little less sex. :)

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    2. lmao. Those have been some pretty amusing buddy reads. <3

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  7. I've read some NA books recently, but they seem to be a hit or miss with me. Some of the sex scenes are just TMI and thrown in at random. I've also never understood the appeal of man-whores. One book I read (how I ever finished it I don't know!) a man and a woman with mutual friends rent a house together. They are friends only, but she wants him BAD, and he only does one night stands. She stands idly by for a year and a half while he traipses girls into his bedroom at least 4 night a week. Different girls, all one night stands, and he only visits one bar to pick up chicks. I can do the math here - a year and a half is 78 weeks, times 4 is 312 different one night stands. Not only is that disgusting, it's downright unrealistic. And he must not be good at it because not once did any of those bitches come back for more. If he was all that he would have stalkers lined up around the block. Oh, one more thing, when the guy says let's have sex without a condom, I've been tested and I'm clean, and the girl is okay with it? That's just wrong. I would never trust a guy who says that while trying to get into my pants. Just sayin'. Awesome topic, I could go on for days...

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    1. Oh, gawd, that sounds terrible. And completely unrealistic. I don't think I'd have made it through that one! Sounds like the Charlie character from Two and a Half Men. Blech. And I completely agree with your last statement...never, never, NEVER. That's just dangerous and so scary that there are actually girls who would risk that.

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    2. Omg!!! This comment! I'm not sure what book your'e referencing, but I also read one like that. The guy was a man whore, he'd bring home a different girl every night. Oh but he was clean. "My ASS!!!"

      but wow, that book sounds horrible and I don't think I would ever want to read it. Except maybe for laughs. And he goes to the same bar? sheesh. What kind of bar is this. I hope it wasn't a small town. lol there is no way I would pine after a guy like that. *shudders*

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  8. I've pretty much stayed away from anything labeled NA for exactly these reasons. I hate the "bad boy" trope and the helpless female. The baggage thing, too. Everybody's lives are always soooo tragic. It doesn't appeal to me. At all.
    Like you said, if I was interested in gratuitous sex and no real plot, I would pick up a Harlequin romance novel (which I totally read in middle school and shaped how I saw sex, too. Lol).
    I've read and loved books that could be called NA, but that aren't packaged in that manner, like Fangirl and Girls in White Dresses. Those are the types of books I wish we meant when we talked about the genre, but as it stands, the genre holds little to no appeal for me and I will probably continue to avoid them like the plague.
    Great discussion post!

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    1. Heh, glad I wasn't the only one reading my mom's steamy romances back in junior high. :P I think there are probably quite a few really good books that fit the general description of this genre, but they're not marketed as such and probably do better because of it...like Fangirl. I don't think I ever saw it labeled as NA, but it's exactly what I would expect from something labeled as "new adult". I'm going to continue avoiding books marketed as NA, too, until I see some real improvement from the genre as a whole. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    2. the baggage thing does get a little old. Soooo tragic is right. Some of their issues are so over the top it's not believable. New Adult should cover all characters of that age group, not just the messed up ones.

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  9. I haven't read any NA books yet. I have heard good reviews about some of them but I wasn't aware of all of these tropes. Rocker bad boys with tattoos? When I read, I'd like to find the main guy attractive too but rocker bad boys with tattoos aren't attractive to me. I agree with the women being treated badly but they just keep going back for more. I remember reading a review on a NA book where the guy had some pretty violent scenes and instead of running away as far as she can, the woman goes back to him again because she felt like she could help him and it's not like he punched her, he only did it to the wall and some other objects in the house! Umm..yeah, men like that, sooner or later it will be your face that he's pounding in and not just the wall, Who knows, he might be pounding your face into the wall. I don't know why books like that are even written and what sort of message the author is trying to send out. I feel like I am more wary of NA books now that I've read your post. I'll keep in mind the ones that you ladies did recommend.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and I agree, rocker boys with tattoos don't do it for me. I have nothing against them per say, I think it's more the attitude they put off in these books. My husband has a tattoo sleeve done, but he's a nice guy. lol.

      I don't understand that appeal of the violent guys. I was in a relationship with a guy once and he got rough with me. He was pissed, he threw me up against a wall, spit in my face and called me a whore. (I'm not.. I didnt do anything wrong. I woke him up accidentally) Anyway, I slapped him and kicked him out. No thank you!

      unfortunately I have friends who are glutton for punishment. They will take a guy back over and over even when they are violent. And that's real life! So who knows. Now I'm just blabbing. :P

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  10. Great discussion post! I've read a few NA books and enjoyed most of them. Easy was a favorite of mine as was Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster. I also read Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken and The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden by Jessica Sorenson and really enjoyed those too. They all seemed to have good story lines and weren't just all about the sex. I have a thing about the bad boy type so that one doesn't bother me as long as the story is different. When they all start sounding alike, that's when I have a problem.

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    1. Oh good!! I have Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster, I have been scared to start it. I forgot about Jessica Sorensons books. I did read a story by her, it was good.

      I have a thing for good guys. lol. Computer Nerds are my thing. <3

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  11. I'm a romance junkie, but even I steer clear of the New Adult genre for the most part, unless it's written by a trusted author (Jennifer Armentrout, Colleen Hoover, Tammara Webber) or it gets good reviews from my friends (The Sea of Tranquility, Fangirl). Most of the time the writing is just *bad*. I like a good love story more than anyone, but I can't immerse myself completely if I'm constantly frustrated with the writing. (My Favorite Mistake, The Edge of Never, The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden, and Beautifully Broken are all examples of this.)

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    1. I still haven't read anything by Jennifer Armentrout. I have a couple of her books on my kindle. Moving them up the list now. :)

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  12. The only NA book that I have read is The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay. That story was beautiful and wonderful and I adored it. But other than that one, I stay away from NA because of every single reason that you wrote about. I honestly can count on one hand the amount of NA synopses that I have read that were unique. For the most part they all sound like the same book. And I am just not interested. I am 31 and NA should be what I would choose, but I will always choose YA and in a lot of ways, those books are far more mature than the NA's out there.

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    1. I loved The Sea of Tranquility. That book was amazing. I did not realize it was considered New Adult or I would have added it to my examples of good ones. :) Thanks for stopping by. And I agree, YA does come across as more mature. I've noticed that too.

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  13. I really recommend the Addicted series by Krista & Becca Ritchie. There's quite a lot of sex in those because the female MC is a sex addict, but I really enjoyed those books and it's my top fave NA series right now.

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  14. I completely agree with you. When new adult first popped up I was so excited, but I've found that for me, it's tedious and annoying. Too much nastiness, too many guys that act like they're gods gift to man.

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  15. Amen... preach it sistas!!! I agree with everything you wrote here :) I've recently decided to stop reading NA and start reading romances that are centered around characters a bit older and more relateable to me. I can get the smexy times, the romance and *not* the tweenyty drama (get it?! teeny/twenty... I tried... lol)

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  16. I chuckled quite a bit reading this b/c the tropes for NA are definitely represented here in your discussion. While I've found a few that I like, yes, this description does cover the vast majority. I will continue to tiptoe around most of the books in this reading level b/c of that, but I won't reject it all.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Run away from BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. Run.

    I agree wholeheartedly with everything in this post.
    And Jen, the mention of ONE & ONLY made me smile. I've been playing to reread because I miss the amazingness.<3 <3

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  18. I've only read a handful of new adult but more than half the time the premises all sound the same. It's like you have to go digging for the really good ones among them, and there are tons out there now.

    The virgin thing really bothers me. But it won't just be that they are a virgin, they will be CLUELESS on all things sex related. Huh? C'mon. Middle school and High school years are very informative, whether you are partaking or not.

    I think The Sea of Tranquility is my favorite. And the Sempre series. I also enjoyed Easy too.

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