Here are some questions I came across related to this discussion:
Is it the age of the main character? I think this is part of it (it wouldn't make sense reading a YA novel where the character was in her late twenties) but it can't be all of it because we all know plenty of books with young MCs that are not classified as YA (like The Lovely Bones). But YA novels always seem to have the characters in the now, not as adults remembering and infusing it with an adult perspective.
Is it the subject matter of the book? A lot of YA novels are about characters coming of age, dealing with the loss of innocence, first love, etc.
Is it the absence of explicit sex scenes? Even if the characters have sex, it's usually not very explicit.
Is it marketing or the intended readership? I think this has a lot to do with it. I read somewhere that The Book Thief was marketed in the US as YA but in Australia as Adult. And think about certain books that could have gone either way, like The Bone Season and The Host. Why are they considered "adult"? As far as intended readership, I read recently (I think it was from 2012 so it may be even higher now) that around 55% of YA novels are being bought by adults.
So, what do you think makes a book YA?
Posted by: Pam