Saturday, March 1, 2014

Judging Books Based on Their Covers Part Two: When the Cover Doesn't Match the Story

Last week, I took a look at different books that have the same covers. This week, I'm taking a look at two book covers that for me, don't match the story because they don't do a good job portraying what the book is about.

First up is Panic by Lauren Oliver.

I like this cover. But when I look at it, it doesn't give me any kind of idea what the book is about. The summary of the book is: "In the poor town of Carp, New York, a group of teens enters a high-stakes game that involves a series of secretive, possibly deadly challenges throughout the summer, with the winner receiving more than $50,000--enough money to start a new life."

For me, the cover doesn't indicate anything about fear--the girl on the cover doesn't look particularly scared, and I would never guess that she's participating in a possibly deadly game.

Next up: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas.

This cover doesn't do anything for the book. I talked to a bookseller recently about how bad the cover is, and we wondered why the publisher thought it would appeal to readers. A colleague of mine and I also talked about it, and while I think the cover indicates that the book takes place by a beach, my colleague said the cover makes her think of a desert. To be fair, I've read the book and my colleague hasn't, which is why I look at the sand on the cover and think beach (the book takes place in Aruba). The handcuffs covered in sand and the flower do seem a little strange, and definitely don't convey what the book is really about.

In talking about Dangerous Girls, my colleague and I also looked at the UK and German covers, as well as the paperback cover for the U.S. edition.

The first image is of the UK edition and was found on Goodreads. This cover doesn't describe the book at all. It's a pretty cover; I love the colors. But shards of glass? That has nothing to do with the book.

The second image is of the German edition and was found on the author's Twitter account. Again, it's pretty, and I like how it incorporates the beach but in a creepy way (unlike the cover with the handcuffs in the sand). What I'm not sure about with this cover is the girl--why is her hair covering her face? Does this make her more creepy or less creepy? I feel like it's supposed to be symbolic of something, but I can't quite figure out what.

The third image is of the U.S. paperback edition and was also found on the author's Twitter account. My colleague and I agreed that this was the best cover, as it's more obvious that the book is about a dead girl. My colleague also liked the font and color used for the book's title on this cover. It's girly, but also hints at something a bit more sinister, which is perfect for what this book is about.

Book covers can set the tone and mood for a book is about, and when the cover doesn't do a good job of conveying these things, it might mean it's not doing a good job conveying what a book is actually about.

Like I did with Dangerous Girls, Judging a Book Based on Their Covers Part Three will focus on different covers of the same books.

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