I've posted this question to my writer's group, but it's really bugging me, so I thought I'd bring it over here, too.
Several people who have read my query think that it sounds MG, not YA. Of the four people who read some sample chapters, one person thought it sounded MG, one person thought it sounded perfectly high school, and two people (my mom and my husband) told me to quit obsessing (my husband added he wanted a pie, so I kicked him).
I'm not really up on my MG reading. When I think MG, I think Lemony Snicket, Cornelia Funke, and The Spiderwick Chronicles...all of which are series that I never finished. MG tends to be a little too light for me, a little too much on the happy ending side (despite my Lemony Snicket connotations)...it's a little more fluff. Not that this is bad--sometimes I really just want a light, easy read, but on my book shelf, I tend to stack my MG novels with my other lighter fare, like my cheesy romances. (Please don't think I'm slamming your book, PJ! Actually, when I read your description of The Emerald Tablet, I thought it sounded more YA than MG...I'm really getting confused about the distinction!)
Most of my book shelf is YA, but, admittedly, the YA I tend to read include the classics (CS Lewis, TH White) or not-as-hardcore-as-some-fantasy books (like JK Rowling, Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley).
The Amnesia Door is between 60 and 65k words and deals with some dark issues: ethics, morality, temptation, death, animal mutilation (it's really essential to the story, please don't think I'm psycho!), intended and implied human mutilation. It's not something I think of a 12 year old reading. Then again, the Lemony Snicket books were pretty dark too, and judging from the movie, Spiderwick got more serious as the series continued. On the other hand, there is no romance at all, there's some pretty typically MG school scenes (wish I fit in! wish I were popular!), and my characters tend to be a bit more believing and less sarcastical doubtful of everything.
So, my basic question is this: what do YOU think is the difference between MG or YA? What makes one over the other? Which do you think my novel should be classified as (know that you've not read it, just looking for a survey answer)? If you think my novel sounds more MG than YA, what do you think I should do about my query?