SF SIgnal has an entry about whether or not Young Adult books are currently too graphic. As you might imagine nearly everyone who responded cheered the current standard. This was my post:
My first response is that I suspect that most of the people responding have no idea what the YA field is like today. Comments such as “there is no sex in YA anyway” are so far off from the reality as to suggest that the reader is only familiar with older books or with a spattering of books that do not represent what is currently out there. (If you are not up to date on YA, I recommend googling Rainbow Party by Paul Ruditis. While perhaps an extreme, it gets the point across.) [Folks reading this on my blog, save yourself the mental cringe and don’t bother.]
Secondly, I note that nearly everyone I see answering questions like this always takes time to qualify how bright and precocious they were, and how bright and precocious their children are. Those of us who are not so lucky as to have children with excellent judgment applaud you, but we wish someone else were acting as the gateway to what is available for teens. Alas for civilization, not all children are like you. Not all children are like your children.
Thirdly, I read adult books when I was as young as twelve and grappled with all kinds of interesting and mature ideas. Those books were NOTHING like today’s books. They were adult in their ideas, not in their graphicness. YA books today are much more graphic than was even the most interesting and shocking of adult books generally available back then. (There were adult books more graphic back then, but not interesting ones, not ones that also had a good story that made it seem legit.)
And, finally, one cannot help wondering at the motives of those who wish to shove stark and shocking things down the throats of children and even teens. It is as if we are all rushing to compete in the graphic version of the old Death Race 2000 game – Two points for scandalizing a sixteen year old. Five for shocking a twelve year old. 50 points for traumatizing a nine-year-old who picked up the book by mistake. He who defiles the most innocents wins.
How admirable! Oh…wait…