I have a weakness for pretty covers. While I almost never buy a book just because of the cover – I almost always read an excerpt – I know I’m less likely to pick it up or try an excerpt if the cover is ugly.
(That’s part of the reason I rarely reach for adult romance. That genre’s covers are usually hideous. Is there anyone who actually likes the ambiguously tanned naked male chests that are barely distinguishable from book to book? Or those of models who usually don’t look like the main characters but are almost kissing?)
So, yes, covers are important and today I’m going to talk about some of my favorites.
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“No Ideas But in Things” A book cover that perfectly expresses the novel inside it
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng. Just look at that Gothic Fae aesthetic. There are so many details that there’s half of the book on that cover, it gets the tone perfectly. I love it so much. Why don’t we get more illustrated covers? I can’t think of any YA book that is as detailed as this one (which is adult fantasy) and I don’t know why publishers are so obsessed with crowns floating on a boring background on fantasy books. At least that helps me find the generic, boring ones easily?
[Illustration by John Coulthart]
“Dark and Lovely” A book cover that is so creepalicious you just want to eat it up
I could answer Under the Pendulum Sun again – there are many creepy details, as the book itself is – but I’m going to choose a book I just finished reading, and one of my new favorite books ever: The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé. I can say that this cover represents the kind of creepy this book is perfectly – it’s about emptiness and loneliness and not being able to control what you do, not about gore or scary creatures. Part of the reason I picked it up was the cover, so I think it’s a good one and I love how it gets the mood of the book. Also, it’s f/f horror!
[Cover Design by Elsie Lyons; Cover image by Aliza Razell/Arcangel]
“Sugary Sweet” A cute cover that is so fluffy you want to give it a hug
Style by Chelsea M. Cameron, both cover and back cover. This is probably the fluffiest book I’ve ever read, it’s basically pure fluff, and I didn’t mind that at all. Just look at the girls! They’re so cute and happy together!
Anyway this is one of the cutest f/f romances and it has almost no homophobia in it and if that’s what you’re looking for, try it.
[Cover by KassiJean]
“The Simple Aesthetic” A book cover that stuns with the most minimalistic of design
I tend not to like very minimalist covers, but here are two I love that I think qualify. Radiance by Catherinne M. Valente, with the planets and the gears and the camera, is mysterious enough that I don’t mind that the cover doesn’t make you understand this is a “decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own”. To be fair, I don’t think you can convey that with a book cover.
[Cover art and design by Will Staehle]
The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz is also very mysterious – if your minimalist covers don’t have an element of mystery, they’re boring – because I had no idea of what that weird flamingo/palm leaves pattern even meant. Now that I’ve read the book, I get it and I love it.
[Cover art design by Michelle Taormina]
“Cover Envy” A book cover you wish you had on your shelves, but don’t yet
The Girl King by Mimi Yu. That’s what I meant when I said I wanted more illustrated covers in YA, just look how pretty this is. If I can’t get something with too many details like Under the Pendulum Sun, this is what I want.
The Girl King is one of my most anticipated releases for next year and I hope it’s so good that I’ll want to buy a physical copy, because I really want to own something this pretty.
[illustration by Tommy Arnold]
“Traveling Abroad” A beautiful book cover featuring a country outside of your own
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter. That’s the Brooklyn Bridge, as this creepy retelling of Vasilisa the Beautiful is set in a surreal, paranormal Brooklyn where the nights get longer and longer and Baba Yaga Stores (BY’s) walk around on chicken legs. I love symbolic, mysterious covers like this one, and both the font and the color scheme are wonderful.
[I couldn’t find who designed the cover; I know the author drew the illustrations inside but I don’t know if she designed the cover herself]
“The Color Wheel” A cover that showcases one of your favorite colors
The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang. Red! Also, this cover gets the “chase a giant Naga through the desert while riding a giant phoenix-dinosaur” thing right.
[Cover illustration by Yuko Shimizu, cover design by Christine Foltzer]
“Switching Gears” A cover change you absolutely adore
I don’t know? I usually don’t care about them, but I can’t think of any recent cover changes I liked. I can say that I liked the first Labyrinth Lost cover, loved the second one, and really don’t like the third one, but I love how that design looks in Bruja Born, which is my favorite cover of the four.
“Oldie but Goodie” A favorite cover of your favorite classic
I haven’t read one, not in the last four years, so I don’t know.
“And the Winner is…” Which book cover meantioned above is your favorite?
Only by looking at these I’d say The Girl King, but since I own Vassa in the Night, I choose that one – I like this image of Vassa‘s cover, but it doesn’t do the physical copy justice. It’s one of the most beautiful books I own, both inside and outside.
[don’t feel obligated to do it!]
Do you like illustrated covers? Which trends would you like to see/disappear in YA covers?