Monday, July 4, 2011

My Favourite YA Covers (That I've Read)...It's Complicated!

I've been sitting here reflecting on the intricacies of choosing my favourite book covers. I'm not sure if this is something the average reader would think about. Of course, people like what they like. They know what elements in a book cover they like - simple, artsy, people on the cover, no people on the cover, colourful, monotone, etc. But do people ever analyze why they like what they like...what they like?

Agh! The complications of a university training that had us analyzing everything and then analyzing how people analyze! It has addled my brain.

I started off preparing for this post thinking I'd just share some of my favourite books covers, from those young adult books I have already read. I discovered that what I thought were the obvious choices weren't so obvious anymore. Then I discovered at the core of this lies the prejudice that what book covers I was willing to say I loved was very much influenced by what I thought of the book.

 Of course, the very first covers that jumped out at me belonged to books I held in very high esteem (5 star books) -  Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and I Am the Messanger by Marcus Zusak. I have of course, given more than two young adult books 5 stars, but elements of style in the covers combined with the fact that I loved the books made me want to show them off. I love the simplicity in cover designs and both of these covers definitely have that. If you didn't look closely, you wouldn't even know that The Perks of Being a Wallflower even had a picture on it. On the other hand, I Am the Messanger shouts out to the world, "Look at me, I am a card in a game. I am very important to this story!"

Then I had the covers that shouted out "Once you read it, you'll get why I'm here!" Very similar to the cover for I Am the Messanger but I didn't neccisarily have to be 5 star reads. The important part is that the book cover conveyed some sort of emotion that I felt after reading the story. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann, and Bruiser by Neal Shusterman stood out to me here. Yet again they were all simple covers, except the difference was in the styling.

Not just any old thing that conveyed the element in the story would do. For example, in Revolution, the cover works perfectly because it follows two girls across time whose stories are very similar to each other. The painting on one side works perfectly because the girl is historical and the crackly conveys the emotion of her story perfectly. The photograph on the other side works perfectly because of the modern story but the black and white as well as the curiosity and uncertainty in her eyes work perfectly because of her story.

The same goes for Cryer's Cross - the desk had to be creepy and old and the styling of it's surroundings also had to be dark to make it feel even more creepy. And once you read the story you understand why this important and why the book cover works so well. Bruiser just looks like any old close-up, but once again, after reading the story it was easy to understand why this boy with the bright green eyes looks so...soft.

I also discovered that books which I felt ambiguous about after reading them gave me the same feelings while deciding whether I liked them or not. This is the hardest part for me. Because these book covers were amazing!

Before I read them they made me want to read them. Before I read them, they were my favourite covers for the year. unfortuneately, the stories didn't live up to my hype or I just found they weren't perfect. It's a shame, because despite the fact that I still think these covers are incredible, every time I look at them I'm reminded of my disappointment that I can't say without a doubt, I loved them.

 After seeing the cover for Wither by Lauren DeStephano in person, I'm going to say it is a masterpiece. The detail is just amazing. You know those circles and boxes connected to each other? These are even used throughout the entire book at the tops and bottoms of the pages, in the first letter of a chapter start, the entire verso page with publication information is a puzzle piece to be deciphered. It's amazing! Not to mention the softness and gorgeous colour scheme. I can't toss this one aside despite the fact I wasn't blown away by the story. But that did make me hesitate.

And so did Across the Universe. I love stardust. And this cover is just very intimate...without being obvious about it. And I like that. But I didn't like the story quite as much as I thought I did and that made me hestitate as well.

So this is what I discovered while trying to choose my favourite book covers for those books which I have already read - it's complicated! It's very hard to be objective about art when there is history behind it. That's not always a bad thing - somethings "history" makes it easier to like something that may otherwise be passed over. Other times it makes it difficult to hold something up and say "I like it!"

So what about you? Do you think the covers you say are your favourite are influenced by what you thought about the story? What do you think makes a good cover?


  1. Now you got me thinking hard about it. Your theory is that your favorite covers are the covers of your favorite books. I never though about it that way, it's kind of shocking. But I think you're right. I think if the story touches us so deeply, when we see the cover that represents that story, our instinct is to love it,too. Then again, there are covers that are so pretty and I like a lot and I haven't read the story, like the Tris and Izzie cover. Great post!

  2. Thanks mfay2. Yes, your interpretation of my... rambling... would be correct! I thought this was interesting. Even though I liked a book cover, I wasn't sure if I would say it was my favourite, and even though a book cover might not have looked amazing before I read it, I thought it was awesome after reading it. Didn't realize that until now. It's interesting that you say the same too. I wonder what others think.

  3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is my favorite book. I even sent it to Colombia for my boyfriend to read and now it's his favorite book! I still have to read Revolution and Across the Universe. Thanks for sharing! These are truly beautiful covers. Especially Across the Universe. Another beautiful cover is Hereafter by Tara Hudson. It's sooo shiny in person! Pictures do not do it justice.