Kids today are saturated with this stuff and are certainly doing things a lot earlier than even when I was a kid. (Which wasn't really that long ago...) Things that are acceptable on TV and in books now, definitely weren't as commonplace then. Or perhaps they were and I was just oblivious. I know that I read books like The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith. There was definitely romance going on, but nothing hard core or descriptive.
**possible spoilers below**
And there are books now, like Wake and Fade by Lisa McMann and Graceling by Kristin Cashore, that have sex (handled quite adult and very sweetly, I might add). There is a fair amount of fighting and violence in YA books as well. Obviously with Harry Potter, as the series progressed, there was a lot of death, but not so much description on the violence. In the Twilight Saga there was both sex and violence. But the sex here waited until marriage. And again, the violence was toned down - though I believe there was mention of James' head being yanked off and his body burned and some other such activities.
So, this leads me to my point: How far is too far in YA literature today? Can it still be YA if your leading couple goes "all the way", perhaps on more than one occasion? - of course, keeping the sexiness and passion toned down and to a minimum in descriptiveness for sensitive eyes. And if chapter 3 has "the bad guy" doing some very bad and evil things - such as ripping out a heart of an underling - is that going too far?
Of course we don't want to condone kids' bad behavior - the point is, kids are going to do bad things anyhow. It's a fact of life. You live and you learn. Just because you read about sex and death doesn't mean you are going to think these things are ok. In fact, I would think that kids that take the time to actually read are smart enough to know what's right and what's wrong - that the books are actually fiction, after all . I also feel the parents hold a certain level of responsibility here.
I guess no matter what, there are going to be critics out there who say a novel was taken too far on some level. Look at all the folks who say Edward from Twilight was abusive and that little girls that read that will think "it's ok to be in an abusive relationship now". I'd better not go there today...
But, what is your opinion? Is there such a thing as too far with teens and what they read today? How hot is too hot for love, and how cold is too cold for evil?