Anyway, I found this recent Room for Debate feature about Young Adult fiction. It's got more going on than some of the others (such as the one about cover blurbs I recently linked to).
Couple of overarching issues that are addressed:
- Including minority characters. There aren't enough minorities in fantasy fiction, though some headway is being made as more minorities are becoming authors (e.g. N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, and David Anthony Durham). But young adult fiction certainly mirrors adult fiction, in this regard. I guess I never thought about this growing up because I'm white. I try to be more conscious of it, now.
- Whether adults should read young adult fiction or not. Lev Grossman has it right here, and Joel Stein doesn't get it. (Not that all YA fiction is good, some of it's pretty dumb. But good YA fiction should appeal to all ages. You should catch things when you're older and re-reading books that you didn't pick up when you were younger and not as well-educated and less experienced.)