I read a lot of writing advice. Some in book form, which is good for the basics, but more helpful are the blogs by established writers and to an extent, their newsletters. One thing that's been mentioned on a couple of the latter is writing for children, which includes YA in some of the recent postings/mailings. Now, opinions are like...no, never mind. I won't say it. But it is true. Let me say instead, take every opinion with a grain of salt and be ready to spit it out if it doesn't agree with you. That goes for me, too. These are all just my, so-far-amateur, thouhts on the matter.
One of the newsletters had a numbered list of what your children's novel should be:
1. Be about children
2. Be the same age and gender of your target audience
3. Be safe
Another post/newsletter talked at length that each novel for children needed to provide life lessons. Yet another talked about the need to use simple language.
Some of the advice was good, the salt helped the flavor but I didn't spit it out. Some of it made me roll my eyes. Some of the advice says more about the authors view of children and how they should be raised than about writing or storytelling. I didn't see any of them approaching the question the way I do.
For me, I ask myself, 'what would I have wanted to read when I was X years old?' As writers, we should be putting ourselves in other people's shoes all the time. I don't think you can be a good writer without a certain amount of empathy. It certainly shows as a lack in those writers who can't seem to, at least. So why not put yourself into the shoes of a twelve year old boy or girl and ask yourself what they/you would like to read?
I think way too many of these authors are approaching this from the angle of 'what should children read' and not what they will enjoy. I know kids aren't adults, for a lot of them, their brains aren't developed all the way until their late teens (and by then, hormones are short-circuiting that as well). (Yes there are exceptions. They often grow up to be writers.)
Try to put yourself back into your old shoes when you're planning to write a YA novel. Think about the things you were interested in when you were 16 or 18 or 8. Then write about that.
Honestly, I don't know if Angel Odyssey or the Mageborn Mechanic will be sucessful. I hope so but I can say that they are the kind of books I wished were around when I was 14 or 17.