2011 YA Speculative Book Covers (Girls)

And by "girl" I mean these covers totally appeal to girls.
Boys probably would not be caught dead carrying them around.

& just a note...this was the hardest category for me to narrow down
because I loved so many of the covers in this genre.

Please vote for your favorite cover using the poll at the bottom of the post. 
Remember, we're voting for the COVER, not the story or the author.  
Voting deadline: Midnight, Friday, February 10, 2012.

As I said earlier, this was the hardest category for me to pick a winner. YA fantasy is the genre I read for pure pleasure, so I am the target reader here. It was hard to pick only five covers and of these five, it was really hard to pick only one winner. Every single one of these covers caused me to look again—which is what you want a cover to do. Every single one of them are on my To Read list because the covers were so intriguing that I had to read the promo/sample chapters. I'd already purchased four of them before this contest, and I plan to get the fifth one too. That is the power of a good cover.
Become by Ali Cross
Publisher: Ninjas Write Publishing
Cover Design: Ali Cross/Fanye L.O.
I enjoy YA paranormal stories and this cover captures the feel of that genre. I love the central character image—beautiful, intriguing. The author's name stands out clearly but doesn't detract from the image. I love the purple of the title and the way it provides a bright contrast to the darker blue-green-gray image. The short, one-word title dominates the bottom of the cover but, again, doesn't distract from the central image. I'm not sure I would have chosen the title font. I like the swirlyness of the B, but the rest of it is pretty basic script. And the bevel or outline blurs it a bit. I do like the script of the subtitle. Adds to the intrigue of the book and balances the entire image as a whole.

Crossed by Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Cover Design: ??
I loved the cover for Matched but I like this one even better. My eye goes right to that image of the girl breaking from the blue globe. So intriguing. It has movement and power. I like the way the fractured glass goes flying off the edges. The blue is a great color choice against the gray background, and the gradient adds interest. I like the simplicity of the title font, and that backwards R adds intrigue. Reminds me a little of some of the USSR imagery...(wonder if that was intentional). I like the Y and the I in the author's name. Her name is so small compared to the rest of the cover but the space around it makes it stand out. This is a book that I'd buy for the cover alone. So of course, it gets my pick for this genre. 

 The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Mangum
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Cover Design: ??
This cover excels at fontage. First, there's the title. AWESOME! I love the way the letters are different sizes and how the K fits into the C. That entire word is fantastic. I like the way the author's name is handled too. It has the feel of the time travel of the story. (Oops. Spoiler. Sorry.) I love the locket itself. Beautiful. I'm not sure why we have to have the designation that this is a novel on the front of the book (LDS publishers do that a lot. Anyone know why?), but since it is there, it's done well, filling up the space in a font that you can choose to ignore if you want. I personally don't love the colors, but they fit the feel of the story. 

Wings of Light by  Laura Bingham
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Cover Design: Megan Whittier
This cover tells me everything I need to know about this story. There's the castle in the background, giving us the time period, as well as the fantasy feeling. The bird is stylistic with a magical feel, and looks like it is both burning and rising at the same time. Cool. The colors of the title and author's name seem to be filled with light that pull them off the page. I love the title font and the way the letters seem to move and fly, like the bird. To a fan of YA medieval fantasy, this cover rocks! I loved it.

Witch Song  by Amber Argyle
Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing
Cover Design: Eve Ventrue
This is another cover that speaks directly to the targeted reader. That face! Oh my gosh! Haunting, sad, beautiful. The locket/necklace she's wearing draws your eye straight to it. The thorns that seem to pull at her, trap her, add intrigue. I like the title placement and font choice—spectacular. But I'd have made it a little lighter so that it stood out a bit more. Not sure I like the placement of the author's name. It gets lost in her hair. Maybe I'd have put it on the other side. But still. This is a great cover that put the book on my To Read list.


Joe Vasicek said...

I'm a little confused. Is it really healthy to categorize books by gender? That seems to send the message that girls won't enjoy certain books, which both reinforces unhealthy gender stereotypes and cuts off a book from half of its potential audience. Not only is this disturbingly sexist, it's bad marketing. To make this distinction for Young Adult books is even worse, because it sends the message to young, new readers that "you shouldn't read that; it's a girl/boy book." If we want to encourage our children to be well read, how is this even remotely healthy?

Reader said...

Joe: You ever try to get a boy to enjoy "Anne of Green Gables"? Know a lot of young girls who adore "Lord of the Rings"? There's nothing wrong with celebrating the differences that make the genders so intriguing to each other.

Joe Vasicek said...

Actually, I know lots of girls who love Lord of the Rings--that's just my point. There's nothing in that book that makes it inherently appealing to one gender over the other; we teach that behavior by segregating girls and boys based on gender stereotypes. And while there certainly are legitimate differences between the sexes that should be celebrated, gender is a social construct. If you insist on segregating books by gender, you run the risk of cutting girls off from adventure tales that help them to build ambition and self-confidence, and cutting boys off from relationship-driven stories that help them to be nurturing, caring, and more socially aware.

And what do you do with authors like Lois McMaster Bujold and Ursula K. LeGuin--or, closer to home, Brandon Sanderson? Mistborn features a strong female protagonist who learns to open herself up and trust the people closest to her. She goes from believing she's worthless to developing a sense of self-worth that gives her the confidence she needs to be able to express love for other people. It's a wonderful, empowering message for women, which is probably why Brandon has so many female fans. Yet if the publisher had insisted on a strict segregation by gender, Mistborn would have been cut off from that audience because, as we all know, epic fantasy like Lord of the Rings is just for boys.

Frankly, I find the entire concept of segregating books by gender to be appalling. Yes, certain books will appeal to girls more than boys, and vice versa, but do we really need to reinforce that with our market categorization? The whole purpose of marketing is to make your product more accessible to the people who will love it, not to cut people off and say "you probably won't like this because it's a boy/girl book." By segregating young readers in this way, we risk forcing them into restrictive roles based on harmful stereotypes, teaching them that they must conform to society's idea of what they should be, rather than teaching them to be confident, unique, and self reliant individuals.

LDS_Publisher said...

Okay, Joe. Got your point and I totally agree with it on a personal level. I gave my daughters balls & cars as gifts, and my sons dolls. Seriously.

But when it comes to marketing books, there are definitely girl and boy books. You can tell by the design on the covers. Boys generally do no go for covers with lots of swooshes and pictures of girls on them. I'm not going to change the world here.

My intent was to give the book covers labelled "Boys" equal exposure. Since my readership here seems to be mostly women, a "girlie" cover always wins.

In the future, do you have a suggestion for how to redefine the YA Speculative category so that both types of covers have equal play?

Joe Vasicek said...

If your voter base isn't a sufficiently representative sample of the books' readership, then the contest itself is flawed and you should fix that by expanding to a wider audience or partnering with a larger site. And if it is sufficiently representative, then perhaps there's a reason that the "girlie" covers are winning. My advice would be to keep YA Speculative as a single category and work on giving the contest itself more exposure.

Wm said...

Or you could just accept that there are major stylistic differences between books that are marketed to the two different genres subsets and, because of that, each marketing category should be represented, and that the results of any polls should be understood to represent the interests of the voter base and are not an objective measure (which is true of any awards polling).

Anonymous said...

Wow the eyes on Witch Song are so alluring! That book got my vote.

Heidi L. Murphy said...

I love the Lois McMasters Bujold books. Basically I totally disregard who the genre's SUPPOSED to be for. Heck, I read Bernard Cornwell's books about war all the time. Nobody is forbidding anyone to read a certain set of books. They're simply applying some tags for people who care about such things.
I picked Become for this one because it breathes suspense and danger and a little mystery.
I also liked Crossed and Witch Song, but Become really grabbed me and said, "Read this book!"