The Cover Wars


Wherein we judge books by their covers and, more recently, their blurbs! Join us in the comments or on twitter!


If you haven’t worked it out yet, girls don’t do this. They don’t come to the Hovel. They don’t like goblins and dragons. They don’t paint miniatures. They don’t play role playing games or re-enact fictional battles. And they don’t talk to Geeks like me especially if they’re pretty. And this girl is pretty. What do you do if you’re a fourteen-year-old Geek, and a Beautiful Girl has appeared in the midst of your geeky world? And she seems to like you… For Archie, the natural reaction would be to duck and cover … run for the hills … buy a new model elf… Anything but risk stepping into the Real World. But even Geeks have to put their heads above the parapet at some point. With his mum barely able to contain her excitement that her son is about to join the human race, and his step-father, Tony the Tosser, offering crass advice, it’s time for Archie to embark on a daring Quest to win the Beautiful Girl’s heart and shake off his Geekhood for good… [X]

Janet: Hm, role typing (with Capital Letters, no less!) is not a plus in my eyes. The summary presents Tony as needing to “shake off his Geekhood for good,” as though being a geek was a problem. I think Tony’s problem isn’t being a geek, it’s avoiding people and real life (humourous as his “natural reaction” is, it isn’t a successful long-term strategy. Unless he has the money and space for an army of model elves). The concept of a book about a D&D (etc.) geek appeals. The cover, however, with the exception of the die and the sword, doesn’t match the summary at all. Based on the summary I would read the first page; based on the cover I would not.

Nafiza: I like the cover. It’s bright and the colourful topography grabs my attention. I love the girl’s sassy red socks and I love how confident she is while the guy seems all befuddled. The synopsis, however, turns me off big time. I dislike absolutes and I dislike the fact that this book seems to have decided already what girls are and what things they find interesting. While this may not be true in the book, the synopsis leads me to believe that girls are pushed into these incredibly narrow definitions of femininity and that is definitely not okay. There are girls who like goblins and dragons, who paint miniatures, who play role playing games and re-enact fictional battles. There is also a prevalent attitude among those of the male geek-kind that girls who like doing all the stuff mentioned above are poseurs and not authentic in their likes for these things. This leads to lots of discrimination and that too is definitely okay. So, unlike Janet, if it were based simply on the cover, I’d read the book but the accompany synopsis makes me run a mile. Not for me.

Steph: I am one of those girls. I think I’m intrigued. A combination of the playful cover and the blurb has me wanting to see what is in store. However, what I hope from this book is that both the boy and the girl discover wonderful things about each other’s passions – perhaps the girl likes to paint miniatures? What I dislike is, as has been said, the idea that the boy has to change before he has any chance of getting the girl. The idea that person can be changed, particularly a male figure, in order to make another happy (in most cases the girl) is an unrealistic and often negative way of thinking that has persisted through the ages. Humour can be had, of course, but it is always at the expense of male and female gender roles. I hope that in the end the boy doesn’t have to change. Realistically though I assume that the boy will have to change quite a lot. On the cover – I kinda like it! It is bright and I like the playful font, the caricatures on the front are appealing and humorous.

Yash: I’m with Nafiza. The cover was super-cute but post-summary, it is less cute. The summary assumes a lot of gendered things about being a “geek” or a “nerd” and I don’t like it. I also dislike that they play into the whole “Geek Male has no idea what to do with himself upon finding a suitable mate”. I’m guessing that it will all work out in the end so both the girl and the guy will get to be a cute couple (or in a shocking twist, she dumps him) that embraces their geeky. Anyway, I am going into the summary too much. The cover is very pretty. I mean, YELLOW! And the lettering is so fun with the dice and everything. There’s nothing really remarkable about the people though. Then again, would I have said if I hadn’t read the summary? Maybe not.


In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning. [X]

Janet: Not to be a weapons snob (or, actually, yes, I am the Book Warrior resident weapons snob, and content to be so), but that arrow head is entirely fantasy and not even remotely practical. If a cover is trying to present a deadly situation and a protagonist who knows one end of an arrow from the other, the weapons depicted should at the very least be functional. Sigh. Moving on. The summary sets up an interesting world (Handmaid’s Tale, anyone?); I’m curious about the social dynamics of this nomadic ragtag group of women and girls in hiding. Being hunted changes people, and seeing how wariness, violence, and fear works with the sexual dynamics (essentially, this is a story about avoiding rape, yes?) would be very interesting. Based on the cover, this could easily turn into a YA romance (I hope not). Not sure how the title fits in yet. Rape is evil, and frightening real (1 in 4 Canadian girls is sexually abused); yet in books and movies the emotional/internal effects of living with the threat of violence and rape are often downplayed, even trivialized. I probably wouldn’t read this unless it comes very highly recommended, and maybe not even then.

Nafiza: I thought we were over this women being breeders for failing mankind trope that was so prolific a few years ago? You know, when one in every three dystopian novel had this same plot with a few key variations? Then again, this is a pretty hot topic in the US where the male politicians seem determined to dictate how a woman should use her body, and what rights, if any, she has of her reproduction abilities. Moving on to the cover, I like it but it is more reminiscent of fantasy than the synopsis points at. And thank you for the lesson in weapons, Janet. I may have been inclined to read this book (since it looks like a fantasy) but considering the premise found in the synopsis, this one is a pass for me.

Steph: Yes, Handmaid’s Tale indeed, only most likely less researched (as evidenced by the arrow) and less… tactful? It does look like it’s going to fantasy but then again, with the synopsis I tend to agree with my fellow book warriors that it’ll for the teen romance route. I am tired of this plotline. It’s been done and, though there are few good ones out there, I want something different from a story with the basic plotline. I want a big twist or a reversal, like maybe aliens land and all humans are on the run but the women are being captured and the men are killed. Then it doesn’t – once again – pit male versus female. Or, perhaps it would be nice if it were a romance between women? I don’t think I’d read this unless, as Janet says, it comes highly recommended.

Yash: You know, without the summary I would have passed this book by. (Nothing about the cover says it is about institutionalized rape- but then, I am not sure how you could illustrate that?!) The cover is rather typically “fantasy” and I have loads of those I want to read now. I am, however, very wary of this setup. A novel about sexual slavery is often not very well researched and it would be very disappointing (and possibly, harmful) if this novel falls into the same trap. I, too, will have to wait for a braver soul to explore this first.


Evie’s shattered ribs have been a secret for the last four years. Now she has found the strength to tell her adoptive parents, and the physical traces of her past are fixed – the only remaining signs a scar on her side and a fragment of bone taken home from the hospital, which her uncle Ben helps her to carve into a dragon as a sign of her strength.

Soon this ivory talisman begins to come to life at night, offering wisdom and encouragement in roaming dreams of smoke and moonlight that come to feel ever more real.

As Evie grows stronger there remains one problem her new parents can’t fix for her: a revenge that must be taken. And it seems that the Dragon is the one to take it.

This subtly unsettling novel is told from the viewpoint of a fourteen-year-old girl damaged by a past she can’t talk about, in a hypnotic narrative that, while giving increasing insight, also becomes increasingly unreliable. [X]

Janet: The cover doesn’t tell me much; the tagline gives more of an idea of what to expect. The summary is fascinating. How can Evie take revenge? How has she hidden broken ribs for four years? I like these adoptive parents and kind Uncle Ben. Is the dragon wise or foul, or entirely a figment of Evie’s trauma-jarred imagination? I’d like to read this.

Nafiza: I’ve read this book and it was…strange. I like the cover and I like the colours on it but I feel like the content inside is so much darker than what this cover promises. Still, the novel is a good read and the dragon…well.

Steph: I don’t mind the cover, it’s a little ominous with the shadows and the house in the distance. I like the splashes of red and black – it’s eye catching and nicely designed. As for the blurb, well, I’m not sure. I really liked A Monster Calls which in a way was a child invoking a magical creature as a method for escaping the horrors of reality. It is an appealing idea and I love the power and magic that a child’s imagination can have. It does sound like it’s going to get dark as the story progresses and the hint about the unreliable narrator has me leaning towards perhaps reading it. I believe I have a hunch (that our MC actually becomes and acts as the dragon) but I want to see how that plays out.

Yash: Honestly, I think the cover was so good it has made me unrealistically optimistic about the story. I think I would have picked this one even without a summary. Since we do have a summary, I have to say- I would definitely read the first few pages immediately upon picking it up. It looks like it could be a very brave (if a little heartbreaking) story. That involves dragons. Yup. I’m in.


The city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and Bryre’s inhabitants live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark.

Yet night is the only time that Kymera can enter this dangerous city, for she must not be seen by humans. Her father says they would not understand her wings, the bolts in her neck, or her spiky tail—they would kill her. They would not understand that she was created for a purpose: to rescue the girls of Bryre.

Despite her caution, a boy named Ren sees Kym and begins to leave a perfect red rose for her every evening. As they become friends, Kym learns that Ren knows about the missing girls, the wizard, and the evil magic that haunts Bryre.

And what he knows will change Kym’s life. [X]

Janet: I sense a theme to this week’s cover wars. Despite the lovely blue sky and arching bridge on the cover, I’m not taken by it. Kym looks oddly anxious to please. The summary has a few holes in it: if girls sicken before they disappear, why would anyone assume that they are still alive? How do they disappear? Who enforces the dusk curfew? Who is Kym’s father? Perfect red roses are an odd way to express friendship; also, how does Ren get his hands on them (and how does he keep them intact)? I smell a romance (and possibly a wizard’s apprentice).

Nafiza: I like this cover a lot. I like the buildings in the background, the green grass, the protagonist’s tail and just the art style is totally up my alley. Janet, I will be able to answer your questions as I have e-Arc of this book and will be reviewing it here.

Steph: I really really don’t like this cover, to me it looks like fan art. I agree with Janet’s many questions – why is there a curfew if the girls are just getting sick? Who has this curfew set? Is this insta love that has Ren leaving “perfect” roses? What is the connection between the fairies and the people – why? So many whys! Anyway, I don’t think I’d read it. Too many questions, the cover isn’t up my alley and it promises plot holes and insta-love/ YA romance (and potentially a love triangle).

Yash: I actually really like the art, but I would have to agree that it isn’t as polished as it can be. It kind of reminds me a MG Seraphina. But this girl actually has a proper tail! I wonder if they will get rid of it at the end … Hmm. I will wait for Nafiza’a thumbs up on this book.


There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone – a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on. [X]

Janet: The sticky-note title stands out sharply from the out-of-focus blue tones of the reflected room, visually mirroring (ha ha) the sharp divide of before and after Lex’s brother killed himself. I can’t tell whether the mirror on the cover hangs in the front entrance of a house, in which case the sticky note also suggests her brother’s final text (the way you might leave a note for family members to see when they come home), or whether it hangs in her room, which then suggests how empty and out-of-focus Lex feels. She isn’t pictured, after all; the focus is on the note, implicitly on her brother and the text message. The cover and summary work together well. I’d pick this up and read the first page.

Nafiza: This is going to be one of those soul searching books full of introspection and self-questioning. At least that’s what the mirror tells me. The post-it is also interesting because it suggests a fragility in the relationship, a transient or coincidental tone to it because what id the post-it falls before she sees it? I liked Hand’s angel books so I will give this a try. The cover alone would not have made me pick it up.

Steph: This already sounds pretty heavy, the cover suits the blurb well, but it’s not really my type of book. I don’t know how much I want to read a dead sibling story, especially one where it takes the whole book to overcome the loss (alright, that’s realistic but I want something else (not romance) to be part of the story). I think, it has to come recommended or I won’t go for it. If there were a ghost, that would be cool.

Yash: I really, really love this cover. Nice colours, nice compositions (well, for the purposes of a cover and not an actual photograph- otherwise the post-it would have been slightly off to the side, I think), and the post-it is a bright contrast- it’s all very eye-catching without being tacky. Which really suits the mood of the summary. I may be persuaded to pick this book up. *looks at Nafiza*


In this dazzling debut novel, a pregnant teen learns the meaning of friendship—from the boy who pretends to be her baby’s father.

When the entire high school finds out that Hannah Shepard is pregnant via her ex-best friend, she has a full-on meltdown in her backyard. The one witness (besides the rest of the world): Aaron Tyler, a transfer student and the only boy who doesn’t seem to want to get into Hannah’s pants. Confused and scared, Hannah needs someone to be on her side. Wishing to make up for his own past mistakes, Aaron does the unthinkable and offers to pretend to be the father of Hannah’s unborn baby. Even more unbelievable, Hannah hears herself saying “yes.” [X]

Janet: Unusual that that sky is orange, and that the outlines are sketched in white as well as black. I kind of like the effect. The premise is a little murkier. The idea of creating a supposed relationship, and the relationship that then develops, can be a charming exploration of human nature, or be a really corny set-up for a romance (the latter is more common but I hold out hope for the former). I have a few reservations, however. Hannah’s parents, for one. Pregnancy and friendships can be fairly all-consuming, but I’m pretty sure Hannah’s parents would play a fairly large role in her life at this point. They aren’t mentioned in the summary; what is their role? Aaron, for another. Given the hint of his need to atone, what were his past mistakes? Is he the (unacknowledged) father of someone else’s baby at his old school? In that case, how and why has he changed between then and now? Also, wouldn’t the actual father of Hannah’s baby kind of know that the fetus is his? These questions aside, the summary is as clear as the cover (I like the touch of the stork), and I’d pick this up to look at the first page.

Nafiza: I, unlike Janet, don’t like the orange sky. It hurts my eyes and I think if it was any other colour, I would have picked this book up even though it’s much too realistic for me. Now if that stork was a dragon, things would have been a lot more interesting. Haha.

Steph: I love the cover! Very appealing to me – it tells me that this is going to be a realistic life story, it’s going to be charming and cute and alarmingly real and heartbreaking. The blurb on the other hand almost promises a love triangle. I think the transfer student thing is overdone. I don’t mind the teen pregnancy and I think a meltdown is the usual reaction, so I’d expect that. I wouldn’t expect that anyone would fall in love with her because of her (adorable?) meltdown… I like the cover, but I don’t like the promise of the story within. This is also a no unless highly recommended.

Yash: I actually really love the art style. I love the bold, simple lines that stand out against a bold, simple background. I like the dark orange. I like the little details of the soda and the school bag. I am, however, interested to know (having read the summary) why they decided not to show her pregnancy. I mean, it isn’t a prerequisite. I’m honestly just curious. It was what all the posters did when Juno came out- maybe this decided to be different? In any case, I am very curious to see how this story ends. So, yes, I think I will be picking this one up.

6 responses to “The Cover Wars

  1. Haha, thanks! We’ve just started incorporating the “blurbs” because we felt that just the cover wasn’t enough to go on (haha, don’t judge a book by it’s cover?). I like this much better and we disagree a lot more often. ^_^

  2. I cannot imagine who the target audience for that first book is: geek boys or the girls who’d want to change them. Girls are not anathema to most geek boys, simply ones who are unwilling to understand and accept their hobbies. Maybe the adolescent fear is “Oh, noes, a girl likes me, what will I do?” but the adult fear is “Will she make me give up things that make me happy to be with her?”

    The character trying to shake off his geekhood for good will ultimately lead to them both being incredibly unhappy. The geek will resent the girl for making him give up the things that made him happy, and the girl will wonder why her guy is sad and miserable all the time.

  3. Oh man, Trouble was realllllly good. Interestingly enough, I picked it up because someone left it out at my library and the cover looked intriguing.
    Also, be sure to check out the first cover for Trouble. It’s a little more, uh, pregnancy-related.

    • You know, I saw that cover when I was linking the summaries to the goodreads pages! It was definitely relevant. :)

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