The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Trends in YA Book Covers

I always judge books by the cover (literally speaking of course) Sometimes, I don’t even bother to read the blurb. If it has a nice cover, its good enough for me.


But I do love nice covers. They look so pretty on shelves (#shelfie, anyone?) and I love shiny things. After realising this, the intelligent thing to do is, obviously, write a blog post about it.


Trend #1: A weird font.

This font; perhaps popularised by its usage on the Fault in Our Stars cover, seems common these days. In fact, it graced the cover of Annabelle Pitcher’s My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece before this; at least, it was published first and uses such a font. Or maybe it’s just a different edition. Anyway, this chalky/handwriting font seems very popular-I myself find it untastefully horrendous.


Trend #2: Decapitated YA Fiction Ladies

Today, they seem ubiquitous in every book store, particularly in the YA section. Cassandra Clare seems to be particularly fond of such a trend, lopping off the head of every character in her books at least once, for the sake of it looking good on a cover. If the model you use happens to be male, and you make him shirtless, thus bombarding readers with a full torso shot, I will feed your book to my dog. Or give it to a homeless person to use as kindling for a fire.

Beauty-Queenscollage us mortal instruments

Trend #3: Hey, I found the head!

And then we have the fashion that evidently goes hand and hand with the above; intense, in-your-face head shots.Often,  it is foreshadowing that in reading your book, I will have to wade through insurmountable amounts of purple prose and deep thoughts to find some story, which will be angsty and tragic and irrelevant. Popular in dystopia, the featured model is almost never smiling. So if I’m reading such a book and it happens to cover my face, I just look angry. Which I will be if you uSE THIS ON YOUR COVER.


Trend #4: Look at my pretty dress!

To be frank, this did work on These Broken Stars, which is one of my favourite covers. How to create such a cover; put your model in a long, flowy dress, then either a) put them in water, no matter how irrelevant to your book this is or b) exaggerate the overall flowing effect of the dress by putting them in zero-gravity (see, These Broken Stars below) c) making the model spin or gaze mistily at the camera has a similar effect.


Trend #4: Look into my eyes!

Unless your book features an evil optometrist as the villain, your character’s near-sightedness is crucial to the plot, or eyes are in anyway relevant to your book, putting eyes on the cover is a baffling and unusual practise. Often fancy editing is done to the eye, such as making the eye a map, which is not as creative as you think. Taking such a photo would doubtless be traumatic, or at least a little awkward, for the model photographed.

Cover_FRONT_A Blind Eye13332528

Trend #5: Stick one object on a black background and hope for the best.

That title is just a guise, so I could put Twilight on here. The covers are lovely, a little boring; but inside is utter drivel. Meyers had to put something nice on/in her books, otherwise no-one would buy them! Anyway, these covers are minimalistic, but they work. They are very red; I never finished the series, so I can’t tell how some of the pictures are relevant to the plot (i.e the chessboard; symbolic?)


Trend #6: Using material subjects in general!

What is wrong with some good old minimalistic art? All classics boast this style, and it never fails to look beautiful (unless you employed a five year old to draw stick figures for your cover, in which case shame on you) I despise pictures of real people on my bookshelf.

Trend #7: Hand-drawn art! 

Yay art! This is a GOOD trend -most of the above are negative- and I love it! Paintings, sketches, drawings, all make up my favourite covers. If I had but an artistic bone in my body, I could draw covers for my own books.

Trend #8: Landscapes

Thankyou, publisher, for that omnipresent mental image now implanted in my brain. Actually, these do look quite pretty, if done right. And if the landscape featured has anything remotely to do with your book.

Trend #9: Bow before me, for I wear a cape!

Fantasy genre: you are guilty of this. Please resist the temptation to stick a foreboding-looking character in a majestic cape on your cover. Especially if you turned on the fan in the studio, buffeting the cape and making it swirl ominously about the ankles. Just don’t.


Trend #10: Allow me to demonstrate my typography skills. 

Silhouettes of characters with a million different fonts hurt my eyes. I can’t even read them, which is kind of essential if I’m going to read your book.

What is this book even called?!

What is this book even called?!













Trend #11: Random pyromania!

Ah yes, setting objects on fire. A temptation we must all learn to resist- especially when placed with the job of making a book cover. They apparently look especially commercial when smoking dramatically. Somehow, setting objects on fire and then photographing them has become a timeless art. *sarcasm*


Trend #12: I’m in an orb!

Some books seem to find people sitting in orbs interesting and incredibly artistic. The sneaky ways you publishers find to be symbolic are ever-fascinating. Even if it has nothing to do with what the book is about.


Trend #13: Insects

The winged and the flightless; the beautiful and the eight eyed- butterflies are a given, but spiders? And flies?

Buzz KillCured

Trend #14: Symbols galore!

Thankyou Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth for inciting this raging trend. It can work, for dystopia at least. (Flames at the bottom: optional.)


Trend #15: Font-driven design!

Similar to typography covers- I actually really like these. They are simplistic, yet beautiful. Ahhhh.

Ask Again LaterBroken Hearts Fences

To round up this short post, here are my six favourite book covers right now- sadly, I only own one of these!













Which of these trends do you find the most annoying- or the nicest? 

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 9.22.36 PM



12 responses to “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Trends in YA Book Covers

  1. This is truly fantastic. Small complaint – I haven’t found 122 dragons yet. Much disappointment.

  2. Hi Lydia,

    Just dropping by to say thanks for registering at Teenage-Blogger-Central! Also, now that you mention it, it does seem they use the same few book covers again and again…

    – F at and

  3. I must say I like simplistic covers that do not overwhelm the text inside. Covers like Hunger Games and Twilight (Original not movie ones) are simple enough without being boring and are related to the story within. I also like with the title of the book is large and clearly written 🙂
    Great blog.

  4. Pingback: A Year in Books (End of Year Book Survey) | Musings of a Word Nerd·

The place where unironically enthusiastic geeks may congregate and be unironically enthusiastic!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s