I'm supposed to be thinking about a proposal for a YA SF novel, since an editor approached me about this and I like the idea. Now that the novella is titled ("The Erdmann Nexus" -- thank you, Jack!) and sent off to Asimov's to await its fate, I've started reading some YA novels to see how they've been updated since the last time I read many of them (which may have been when I was 11).
I'm in shock.
I bought Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie, by New York Times best-selling author Holly Black. I had no trouble with fifteen-year-old Val's cussing, or her gay best friend, or her general punk attitude. But in Chapter One, Val walks in on her boyfriend having sex with Val's mother.
Now, I was not expecting Nancy Drew. But... surely this sort of behavior isn't very common? Is it something you'd want your ten-year-old reading? (YA is supposedly for 12-15-year-olds, but in fact younger kids who are good readers consume most of it.) Yes, fiction is about stuff that isn't necessarily common, but is this level of brutality and the number of "unhealthy relationships" (to resort to psychobabble for a moment) typical of all YA fiction?
The only way I'll know is to read more YA. Next on the list is Alison Goodman's Singing the Dogstar Blues. Meanwhile... if there are any librarians or book sellers reading this, do you know if Holly Black is read a lot, and by whom?