Declan Finn tagged me online yesterday, wanting to start a more serious discussion of what is YA (young adult) fiction. Now, I can see his concern, as he originally wrote Honor at Stake for that age/audience. Like Mr. Finn, I can't really say I like that type of labeling much, as it is largely an excuse to legitimize marketing departments at publishers and bookstores, as well as confer authority on librarians that may or may not know the content of the books therein.
Largely what happened in the facebook discussion was personal anecdotes of personal reading habits. There were also some mentions of books getting recategorized, such as the Pern novels, and YA novels now include such things as sex, prolific cursing, rape, and of course, SJW brainwashing.
I find I must once again weep for how far we have as a nation fallen is such a short time.
In my opinion, the only reason for including sex and rape in books intended for teens is the normalization of pedophilia. I've seen from some writers who do not employ such wretched content that their fan letters are largely from adult men. To push such content within the "genre" amounts to the equivalent of pedophile erotica, at least in part.
Like Declan, I would prefer if the age categories involved reflected the vocabulary level of the books. Of course, this is too much to expect when we have college students engaging in remedial English courses and finding the vocabulary of a modern Bible translation(NAB, I believe) too complex for them. As we are granting diplomas from both high school and college to the functionally illiterate, if not the actually illiterate, I have little hope for a proper standard in that regard.
Looking at science fiction, the high point historically for what is now termed "young adult" would likely be the juveniles of Robert Heinlein. In modern sff we have some options of quality including Rod Walker(Mutiny in Space, Alien Game) and John C. Wright(Moth and Cobweb), to name two luminaries in the field. These do have in common a protagonist of similar or slightly older age to the intended audience, a lack of sex(while not ignoring romance), and plenty of action.
As to the question of Declan's Love at First Bite series being YA, I honestly don't know or care. Had I a child of 13 or so, I certainly wouldn't mind them reading these novels. The characters and story would open up plenty of possibilities to discuss theology, guilt, proper self image(morally), and the complicated nature of love and affection.
The best response I would give to a parent is read before they do. The best answer I have to Declan is, I don't see why not. In response to current publishers' marketing, I'd like to remove their workplace from existence, so they have to encounter reality.
When you play Social Justice, the world loses.