I hope you're not waiting for me to tell you, 'cause I sure as heck don't know. I'm currently reading Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. It's got a similar set-up to The Hunger Games but is set in the contemporary world rather than a dystopian future. In it, 42 15 year-olds are kidnapped, put on an island, and forced to kill each other. It's called the Program. In the first 3 chapters, there are 3 dead bodies. Within the first hundred pages, the body count rises to near a dozen. These are brutal, bloody deaths not for the squeamish. Then again, most of the violence in The Hunger Games was exceedingly violent too. But the difference is that HG is shelved in the YA section while Battle Royale is shelved in the adult.
Maybe there's a pivotal scene I've yet to read that will shed some light on it. Until then, I'd love to hear where you all think the lines are. How much violence is too much violence? Are sex and profanity and violence and drug use only okay if they serve a point? Isn't gratuitousness the birthright of youth? Do we have a responsibility to write life as it is or as we think it should be? Should I shut up and go back to writing about silly euphemisms?