First of all, let me say that I personally do not believe many of the YA's we see coming out right now are really YA's. These are stories that have youth as characters but that is about it. In many ways, calling these books YA is like calling a book "women's fiction" because it has a female protagonist. There is much more to this than meets the eye.
When it comes to YA, you have to take the same approach that we take with women's fiction. These are stories that are exploring issues of the world through the eyes of the youth. It doesn't matter if it is paranormal, historical, fantasy or what not, the story is simply using the YA voice as a visual filter to see the world.
What we are seeing right now are not stories that see the world through this lens. We have characters using words or putting them in settings that might be associated with YA characters, but what is coming out of their mouth and the "take away" from the story is not something that is YA. It is purely adult.
I do have to say, I personally believe that we are seeing this due to the complete inexperience of many authors in the YA population. They haven't been kids in a while. They haven't been around youth for a while. Heck, many of them haven't even had kids yet. This lack of exposure is likely going to be a sure sign of a poorly written YA.
I would strongly suggest that true YA authors get out there and discuss the market, not with other authors and certainly not with the book sellers that are hyping up the latest YA paranormal. Talk to the librarians. When I mentioned this to the author the other day, I even suggested taking a look at the Newbery Winners.
Take a look at the 2012 winners:
The importance of history and reading (so you don’t do the same “stupid stuff” again) is at the heart of this achingly funny romp through a dying New Deal town. While mopping up epic nose bleeds, Jack narrates this screw-ball mystery in an endearing and believable voice.
James Lincoln Collier
I think you can get the idea here. Heck, we can even toss some titles around here...
Canterwood Crest Series
I think you get the idea here.
Stories that are targeting high school and college level students tend to lean closer toward the adult market and not really in the YA Market.
I personally believe that many of the authors I see wanting to write YA are missing the mark. Libraries across the nation are begging for new books to give out to their students. Teachers are begging for quality stories to give to their students to read. We have to push for these books.
And I do also believe that if we look at sales of these so-called YA's and look at the demographics, I am honestly betting that readers are more likely adults and not so much the youth they think they are marketing.
As always, IMHO,