So I'm going to direct you to something to read today: The Darling Budds, a YA serial "novel" by Johnny Dale. This is quality YA, dudes. It's posted in one-chapter-per-week format, for free, on the internet. But more important, it is good. Johnny is a skilled writer and a very nice, cool guy.
If you're interested in writing well-executed and fleshed-out YA fiction, this is a prime example. The teenagers are clever and interesting, but still genuinely teenagers. With teenage feelings and teenage imperfections. No forced witty comebacks, no jaded too-cool-for-the-world outlook, no superficial vapidity.
Other things I appreciate about the novel: it sticks to the story and doesn't ramble. There's enough lush description and setting to give you a genuine feeling of place without blahblahblahing on for way too long about The Very Important Lemon Tree In The Garden and stuff. The cast is incredibly diverse without feeling like the author was going for a diverse cast, if that makes sense. Race and sexuality are well-represented, but not forced down your throat like, "Hey, look, I have a token XXX character!" It feels natural to the environment and the story. The student-adult relationships are varied and realistic.
There's intrigue. Embarrassment. Growth. Love. Crushes. Teenagerdom. It's great.
Enjoy The Darling Budds.