Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Cover Elements I Like/Dislike

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Cover Elements I Like/Dislike:

Girls in Pretty Dresses
  Die For Me by Amy Plum
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Sometimes this type of cover works for me, and sometimes it doesn't.  In general, I like these covers better if the girl is facing me.  I don't find staring at someone's back (even if they are wearing a really pretty dress) very engaging.  Other examples of these pretty-dress covers include Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey, Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, and Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George.

Illustrated & Painted Covers

100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson
The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

I don't see an awful lot of this type of cover in YA, which is a shame.  There are so many styles a cover artist could choose from.  Here, we've got everything from what looks like Romanticism (The Raging Quiet) to stylized Impressionism (Savvy) and even one that could be right out of a comic book (Wrapped).  Other examples of illustrated covers include The Dust of 100 Dogs by A. S. King, The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap by H. M. Bouwman, and A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine.

Holding Hands
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I like this element on book covers.  Often, the hands are holding and highlighting an object that's important to the story.  Other times, the hands are more symbolic and they might not be holding anything at all.  As much as I dislike Twilight as a novel, I do have to admit that it has a beautiful and striking cover; it's what led me to pick up the book in the library in the first place!  For some other "handy" covers, check out The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Gossamer by Lois Lowry, The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle, and Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller.

Partial Faces
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Crewel by Gennifer Albin
The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

This style of cover is used a lot, especially in YA.  I think we may be nearing the time when people are going to be getting tired of it.  I had plenty more of these covers to choose from, and it was difficult to pick just four as an example!  A few others are Breathless by Lurlene McDaniel, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, The Good Braider by Terry Farish, and The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller.  Personally, I don't have a strong opinion either way.  Sometimes I like these... sometimes I don't.

Legs & Feet
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

Now that I think about it, this is kind of a strange one.  Why are there so many books with legs and feet on the covers?  With books like Cinder (or any retelling of "Cinderella", for that matter) it makes sense.  But for the rest of them?  It's kind of weird.  And these aren't the only books with leggy covers.  Some other examples include Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez, The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff.

Part of the Story
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Odette's Secrets by Maryann Macdonald
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Surrender by Sonya Hartnett

These covers provide a snapshot of what happened in the book.  Not every book so prominently displays part of its plot on the front cover.  It's kind of nice to find books that do.  A few others are Jolted: Newton Starker's Rules for Survival by Arthur Slade, The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas, Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore, and You Wish by Mandy Hubbard.

Character Covers
The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

These covers can work really well... if they're accurate.  As pretty as the cover for The Explosionist is, the girl looks nothing like Sophie (if I recall correctly, she had straight hair that was cut in a short bob).  The covers for the other three are pretty accurate, though; you can tell that effort was put into representing the characters correctly.  Some other nice covers that incorporate visual portrayals of main or major characters are Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors, Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, The Lake and the Library by S. M. Beiko, and Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones
A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

I've always liked silhouettes, so why wouldn't I like them on book covers?  I think they work best when silhouettes of people are used.  For that reason, the cover for The Girl with Glass Feet leaves me kind of cold; there were so many weird things going on in that story that just using weeds and a bird seems kind of boring.  Many of the books that use silhouettes on their covers seem to have paranormal elements (Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls series is another example).  But there are a few exceptions, like Richard Castle's Nikki Heat series, which are mysteries.  A couple of other books that use silhouettes on their covers are The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly and The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

Absent by Katie Williams
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
World After by Susan Ee

With the popularity of angels in fiction right now, I'm surprised I didn't come across more winged covers.  Actually, out of the four covers shown here, only one book, World After, deals with angels.  It's interesting to see the similarities between some of the covers, even if the subject matter is entirely different.  Other winged examples include The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog, and Wings by Aprilynne Pike.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
More Than This by Patrick Ness
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

I think this one is quite telling about how books are marketed to readers.  With the exception of The Hunger Games, the other three books are written by male authors and have male main characters.  Three of the four are dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction.  All take place in gritty settings.  I'm guessing that most male readers aren't going to pick up a book with a frilly dress on the cover... and so we get covers like this.  Other examples in the same vein include The Always War by Margaret Peterson Haddix, The Compound by S. A. Bodeen, Enclave by Ann Aguirre, and Salt by Maurice Gee.


  1. Yeah, it's true we don't see all that many illustrated covers in YA, although I think they may be making a bit of a comeback in contemporary — ones in the style of Eleanor & Park and Say What You Will.

    Love the Grave Mercy cover, very striking and eye-catching!

  2. I do like the covers that tell part of the story

  3. I adore all of the covers with the wings, and I love it when a cover tells part of the story and when you get to that part it all clicks together and everything.

  4. I almost like all of these. The ones I'm not too hot on are holding hands (I really think the hands on The Awakening cover look funky!), wings (meh), and character covers (I'm just not a fan of people on covers in general). Everything else though? Pretty much. Especially abstract... even if those probably are more designed with boys in mind! :P

  5. So many pretty book covers in this post. Oftentimes, I'll pick a book based on its cover rather than knowing anything about the author, which is probably rather pathetic, and hasn't always worked in my favor, but it's the truth.