Let me explain something about teenagers. They are not cranky and crabby all of the time. They are not self-absorbed and callous. In fact, they have more joy inside than do adults. When their interest is caught, they follow learning with a fierceness and determination that adults no longer have.
I can state these things as fact because I have three teens in the house. (At one time I had five which is certain to have been illegal in several states.) The reason your YA manuscript isn’t going over is because you are writing teens as the enemy. So let’s lay this out.
Children are short adults with no money.
Teenagers are young adults with more spendable income than their parents.
You’re writing young adults like they are some foreign tribe on a hidden continent. They’re not the Lost Boys in Never land. They don’t dance around the fire shaking spears and planning to stab-dead every adult they see.
Sure there are psycho teens out there killing people and running away and doing drugs—whatever. Those kids would like your dark and angry characters. Pretty much those teens won’t be reading your book, because of them being all busy with their psychotic murders.
I don’t remember when my thinking jumped from child to teen to adult. Mostly, my brain has been the same. My favorite birthday cake is still the same one my mom made when I was six. I still like a lot of the things that brought me joy when I was little—a fire in the fireplace, a hug, the wonder of the leaves changing in the fall.
The point is that when I was a teen, I had joy. So totally quit writing these teenagers that are like the cranky neighbor who yells for kids to get off his lawn. Teenagers are like you only they don’t pay rent or utility bills. (There see—they automatically have better lives.)
They’re people. You’re people. Same/Same.