March 19, 2012

Cross My Palm: YA Covers

This is a series of posts I'm doing discussing current trends in YA genres and what might be in store for the future. This is just based on my own observations of books and what I've seen publishers/authors/other bloggers talking about.

Okay, so this time around it's not a genre, but covers I'll be talking about. This will probably be the last Cross My Palm post, at least for a while — although I may return to this feature in the future! Catch up on all the others here.

  • The about-to-kiss (or sometimes even middle-of-kiss) covers. I know this trend has been discussed by other bloggers on more than one occasion (Stacked has a great post on "almost-kiss" covers here, and Lori from Pure Imagination highlights "kissing/hugging" covers in her On Top of the Covers feature here). I don't really have a problem with these covers the same way some bloggers do, but then, I rarely read in public. If I did, though, I'm not so sure I would pick one of the following to take along: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller, First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky, The Thing About The Truth by Lauren Barnholdt, or When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle. This trend seems to be found primarily in the contemporary YA genre, as is the next one.

  • The "couple standing in profile having a magical moment" covers. These are a cousin to the about-to-kiss covers — ones like Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill, The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti, and While He Was Away by Karen Schreck. These I am generally a fan of, actually. Less lip action, more adorable cuteness. 

 Seriously, though, even the colour schemes of the backdrops are similar with these covers!

  • The HUGE FONT covers. These covers seem to think they're making a statement or something. Like, "My font is SO GINORMOUS that I must be super important and deep. Read me!" This is only emphasized all the more if the font happens to be bold, clean and sans serif, as is the case with many of the following examples: Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown, When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle, What's Left Of Me by Kat Zhang, The Best Night of Your Pathetic Life by Tara Altebrando, Never Let You Go by Emma Carlson Berne, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield, Ten by Gretchen McNeil, and Something Like Normal by Trish Doller.

  • Masks. I can't really complain about these because you have to admit they're pretty, but...maybe the cover designers could vary it just a little more, and have something other than a close-up of a girl's face wearing a glittering half-mask? Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould, The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen, and Venom by Fiona Paul look remarkably similar; the exception here is Ironskin by Tina Connolly, which happily manages to give us some atmosphere as well as the character in her entirety. Covers with masks seem to be found mostly in the historical YA genre at present.

  • Reflections. These are mostly in water, but occasionally in mirrors, and not to be confused with the separate but related "girl submerged in water" trend (link to another cover trend post from Stacked). Reflections can be found in the covers of Through to You by Emily Hainsworth, The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee, The Selection by Kiera Cass, All These Lives by Sarah Wylie, One Moment by Kristina McBride, The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes, Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson, and Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins.

  • Butterflies. I'm not too sure why, but for whatever reason, butterflies seem to be gracing YA covers left and right at the moment. Recent and upcoming butterfly cover books include: Possession by Elana Johnson, Pure by Julianna Baggott, Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison, Haven and Mirage by Kristi Cook, Middle Ground by Katie Kacvinsky, A World Away by Nancy Grossman, and The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker. Interestingly, several of these books are dystopian/post-apocalyptic. (Symbolism, anyone? :D)

And then there are...
  • The cover styles that have become so ingrained in YA that they aren't even trends anymore. Namely, close-ups of faces (usually Caucasian girls), the off-with-their-head covers (usually Caucasian girls), and of course, the ubiquitous "pretty dress" ones (do I really need to say who these usually are?) A couple of points here. First, I'd love to see the "whitewashing" of YA covers stop entirely and more covers featuring PoC characters being created and used. Second, do you agree that these "trends" can no longer be considered as such, but rather something more permanent in YA cover design? Or do you think we have a hope of escaping the pretty dress phenomenon someday?  
So, readers: have you noticed the above trends in covers? Any that I missed? What are your favourite/least favourite trends?

Also, for a blog devoted to honest appraisals of YA cover art/design, be sure to check out That Cover Girl if you haven't already!


  1. Love these posts!

    I don't mind most of these, apart from the masks, they don't appeal to me. I don't even mind most of those almost kissing ones and I quite like the ones with couples standing together.

    I am so sick of the pretty giant ballgowns/dresses covers!

    1. Aw, thanks! I like the ones with the couples too :)

      Also, while I do like pretty dresses generally, I have to agree they are just too overdone in YA covers.

  2. I hate the pretty dress novels too. They just reek of "not really good" love triangle paranormal things. It's annoying. I can't wait to see more PoC covers, even if it was PoC girl in pretty dress.

    1. The beautiful dress covers do seem to be pretty common for generic YA paranormal romances, don't they? But I would totally love to see more PoC covers, whether or not there are pretty dresses involved :)

  3. I've noticed these trends too. I find the pretty dresses quite deceiving. Although I enjoyed the Luxe series for what it's worth, I really didn't care for the Fallen or other paranormal-like reads.

  4. I keep confusing all of those mask covers (except Ironskin, like you said). Venom makes me think of Aurelia, too. They're all pretty though, so I like them.

    And on that note, I hope we never escape the pretty dress fad. I know it's SO worn out and rarely does the story inside live up to the dress on the cover, but I always love looking at those covers. That's probably the closest I'm ever going to come to a gorgeous dress :P

  5. I never noticed a lot of these trends until now. I really like the symbolism in the butterfly for dystopians that you pointed out, so cool! I agree, I like the couple in profile more than the almost kiss too.
    I love this feature! :)

  6. The kissy-face covers are typically a turn off to me. First, there is the aspect that I tend to read a lot in public, and kissy-face covers are kind of embarrassing. The second reason they are a turn off is because I'm typically not a fan of books that revolve around romance. Granted, there are some exceptions. I recently read Matched by Ally Condie, and while the book revolves around a forbidden love, it's also much deeper than that. However, if the cover was a kissy-face I'd probably be reluctant to read it because I would have doubted the author was trying to tell a story that was actually profound. I know, I know, I shouldn't judge a book by it's cover!

    I have mixed feelings about the HUGE font covers and the reflection covers. These can be pretty hit and miss with me. For example, I adore the cover for Through to You, but I'm not impressed by the other reflection covers. And, I love the cover for Ten, but the others don't really do anything for me. They're too "scene" for me, I think. ("Scene" as in scene kid/hipster).

    Aaaand, personally I don't want the pretty dress phenomena to go away. Come to think of it, I don't think I've read a book with a pretty dress cover, but they certainly are eye candy!

  7. We get a peek at all the new teen books that come into the library, so I've noticed quite a few of these trends. When I create the new book lists, some of these trends (especially close up of a Caucasian female) are so pervasive I have to rearrange the books so they covers appear to vary more than they do.

    I completely agree with your statement of PoC and YA covers. Stories featuring PoC characters are creeping in, but I'd love to see it reflected on the covers.


I love comments, so post away!

Related Posts with Thumbnails