The Cover Wars


Where we kick butt by judging books based on their covers and back copy. It’s great. Join in!


Evie is living on borrowed time. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer several months ago and told that by now she’d be dead. Evie is grateful for every extra day she gets, but she knows that soon this disease will kill her. Until, miraculously, she may have a second chance to live.

All Evie had wanted was her life back, but now that she has it, she feels like there’s no place for her in it—at least, not for the girl she is now. Her friends and her parents still see her as Cancer Girl, and her boyfriend’s constant, doting attention is suddenly nothing short of suffocating.

Then Evie meets Marcus. She knows that he’s trouble, but she can’t help falling for him. Being near him makes her feel truly, fully alive. It’s better than a drug. His kiss makes her feel invincible—but she may be at the beginning of the biggest free fall of her life.

Steph: The cover is admittedly appealing, I like the colours, they are very in right now. The story itself isn’t anything terribly new (we’ve all see A Walk to Remember?). Evie survives death and then feels suffocated in her life – it could be a cool exploration or it could be a cheesy teen romance, and it just might be something in between. I’m not terribly sold on this one.

Janet: I like the colours on the cover and the twist of silhouettes in shades of white. However, the two figures? That claw-like hand around Evie’s head? Maybe it’s just me but that looks pretty controlling to me and gives a baaaaaad vibe. (If you’ll excuse the momentary slip into hippy-ness.) Which, okay, is maybe the point. But I read Lurlene McDaniel’s cancer-romance novels in high school, and am still surfeited. I’ll pass.

Nafiza: I don’t like this. The colours are pretty and that’s about it. I definitely don’t care for the synopsis. The synopsis makes the book sound as though it will be heavy on the romance and just the whole, “I knew he’d be trouble but I just couldn’t help it” trope makes me barf. Not for me.

Yash: I love the cover! I think it’s one of those times I have to admit that silhouettes work. And the colours, OMG, *swoon*. The summary sounds a little cliched/boring, but I’ve admittedly never read a premise like this one from a female writer. Also, curious to see how the whole Bad Boy thing is going to work. Maybe I’m just in the right mood for this? But I think I’d read this one if I got the chance.


It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts…

Steph: Alright guys, I know that everyone wants to be the next J.K. Rowling BUT that’s enough school stories already. There are school stories about superheroes, supervillains, greek gods and goddesses, elite military or intelligence training in a dystopian society… Can we move on? This one even splits their students up into houses. Anyway, the cover is a nice misty gold with an obscured pretty female protagonist (I’m also getting kinda tired of all these female protagonists… I kinda miss Harry and Percy), the font brings me back to the time that the back copy talks about. The blurb they chose is obviously to stave off the kinds of feelings I’ve already expressed…. I’m just all no about this one unless someone else tells me it really is original and good.

Janet: Like the colour scheme, but the cover’s been done before. About a million times. Steph’s taken the words out of my mouth with her comments on schools. What interests me is these stories about schools for the rebellious/superpowered/intelligent-minded girls is that they reinforce a negative perspective on females in general. “I’m not like them,” the protagonist declares, and we cheer. In actual fact, a whole lot of women (including women in the Georgian and every other period in history) went ahead and did what they wanted anyway. Why not write books about these? Because there were female spies, doctors, scientists, shopkeepers, beer-brewers, political forces, detectives, athletes, artists, and just about every career that exists/existed, and not just in this and the past century. (Please note the plural form, also. Spies, doctors, scientists, shopkeepers… Not just one individual but often communities, and often partially integrated with a male community that recognizes their abilities and contributions to varying degrees. Look up Mary Anning, for example.) But to get off the soapbox and back to the book, the second paragraph of the synopsis tells us exactly what is going to happen, and rather obviously. Having established Georgie as scientific and not the typical simpering female that most girls are, the synopsis/narrator tells exactly what the rest of the book will really be devoted to developing: the romance between Lord Sebastian Wyatt and Georgie. I don’t need to read this to know what happens, and I shan’t.

Nafiza: With a title like that, you’d think the cover would be better but no. It is a regurgitation of countless covers that have graced YA novels before and will do so again. I am not a fan of the colour scheme nor a fan of the synopsis. It doesn’t appeal to me. While I do like boarding school stories as a whole, I will admit that it’s beginning to sound tired and overdone.

Yash: Again, the risk with doing a boarding school story is that the summary will sound like “trope 1 + trope 2 = trope 3”. And yet, I’ve found that I’ve loved The Iron Trial and I’ve loved The Gemma Doyle trilogy, so it stands to reason that this book would be more than what its summary implies. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the cover and uh, I don’t really care if Britain had a hard time in the 1800s. So, yeah, this one is not for me.


Twelve-year-old Ella Mae Higbee is a sensible girl. She eats her vegetables and wants to be just like Sergeant Friday, her favorite character on Dragnet. So when her auntie Mildred starts spouting nonsense about a scientist who can bring her cousin back to life from blood on his dog tags, Ella Mae is skeptical—until he steps out of a bio-pod right before her eyes.

But the boy is not her cousin—he’s Japanese. And in California in the wake of World War II, the Japanese are still feared and despised. When her aunt refuses to take responsibility, Ella Mae and her Mama take him home instead. Determined to do what’s right by her new friend, Ella Mae teaches Takuma English and defends him from the reverend’s talk of H-E-double-toothpicks. But when his memories start to resurface, Ella Mae learns some shocking truths about her own family and more importantly, what it means to love.

Steph: Yellow! I would not have gotten World War II/science fiction from this cover, but I might have gotten the “shocking truths about her own family and more importantly, what it means to love” bit. The cover is charming, I like the look of the art, I like the feel of happy sunshine and suburbia (kind of a juxtaposition there). Does this house remind anyone else of Dennis the Menace? Anyway, this is one that has a whole lotta stuff going on in it, I might read this, but I’ll probably wait for a review.

Janet: The cover is disarmingly sweet, all innocent and 1950s and clear-cut. I rather like it. The title I’m not so sure about – there’s a trend going around (rather like a virus) of titles refering not to any event or character in the story but to some cosmic “everything,” “life,” or “the universe.” So far I haven’t found any book with that sort of title to be memorable. However, you never know. And I do really like that the houses are similar but give definite clues as to their respective (cultural) locations. I’m not sure where this bio-pod thing comes in, and if Takuma really is Ella’s cousin or if he’s been somehow pulled from his real family to California, but that pales next to the overall appeal of the synopsis and the cover, both of which give a small taste of the story. I’d like to try more.

Nafiza: I like the illustrations, the brightness, the mood evoked by the cover. The synopsis, too, is appealing to me. The cover presents an unassuming neighbourhood where nothing memorable ever happens until it does and blows everyone’s minds away. I’d give this a try.

Yash: Such a pretty cover! I love the yellow and the neat lines, and the dizzying perspectives. And the title is intriguing! But … this book is just not for me. I don’t feel like reading stories about Japanese people during WW2 from the perspective of a white American character, no matter how moving or well-written. I may consider it if Nafiza says it’s revolutionary. But she has to say exactly that.


First rule of dealing with hot vampire bodyguards? Don’t fall in love.

After losing both her parents before age seventeen, aspiring designer Caitlin Holte feels like her whole world has been turned upside down, and that was before the terrifying encounter with a supernatural force. Then, she learns that her hot bad-boy neighbor, Adrian—who might have just saved her life—is actually a half-demon vampire.

Suddenly Caitlin is stuck with a vampire bodyguard who feels that the best way to protect her is to become her pretend boyfriend. Trouble is, Caitlin is starting to fall in love for real, while Adrian can never love a human. Caitlin trusts Adrian to keep her safe from his demon father, but will he be able to protect her heart?

Steph: No. lol. Just no.

Janet: Reeeeeeeeeeally? I may have to take back my words about the awful obviousness of A School for Unusual Girls. That cover and synopsis were completely, mind-numbingly obvious, but this is worse. On second thought, I don’t take anything back. Double it and apply here. Thanks. *sigh* Please see Nafiza’s post yesterday, particularly her words on “empty insubstantial books [that] are hyped up [and] packaged in shiny paper.”

Nafiza: A being who hunts other human beings for blood and is immortal besides will not stoop to guarding prey. You do not see cat body-guarding mice, do you? That doesn’t make sense! Oh and as if it isn’t enough to be vampire (a hot one, the distinction is important), he has to be half-demon too. Though one could argue that being vampire is equal to being a demon. But what a hot mess. Nope. Wouldn’t touch this with a meter long stick.

Yash: Wow. Okay, can I just say that I was put off this one just by looking at all the snow? Snow. Water. There are certain things I just do not want on my cover. Or on me. Secretly, I am a human shaped cat. *pouts childishly* Anyway, well, while I like the title and the font, even after the summary I don’t get what the title has to do with anything? I guess that’ll be explained in the book … I can, however, appreciate the colour scheme. Given vampires, I can see how the red on white works out. And er, yeah. That’s all I got. *ahem* Okay, look, if I’m gonna read anymore vampire stories they have to be either Carmilla (or adaptations of it) or I want more grumpy, asexual latino vampires like Raphael Santiago, or you know what, (literally) crazy vampires like Gavriel from The Coldest Girl in Coldtown also work pretty well. I am curious to see how this demon boyfriend will differ from Sarah Rees Brennan’s Nick Ryves, but I’m not gonna prioritize that urge. [Can we not do anymore vampire covers? I feel like this one was here so we could be mean about it and I feel a little guilty about that …]


Stella Cross’s heart is poisoned.

After years on the transplant waiting list, she’s running out of hope that she’ll ever see her eighteenth birthday. Then, miraculously, Stella receives the transplant she needs to survive.

Determined to embrace everything she came so close to losing, Stella throws herself into her new life. But her recovery is marred by strange side effects: Nightmares. Hallucinations. A recurring pain that flares every day at the exact same moment. Then Stella meets Levi Zin, the new boy on everyone’s radar at her Seattle prep school. Stella has never felt more drawn to anyone in her life, and soon she and Levi are inseparable.

Stella is convinced that Levi is her soul mate. Why else would she literally ache for him when they are apart?

After all, the heart never lies…does it?

Steph: Haha I am so intrigued! The cover itself isn’t stellar, it makes me think of only a sappy teen romance, but there are some drippy blood drops and the title would point me more in the direction of Zombie than this – but this sounds gruesome, fast paced – and hey! A reason for insta-love! Finally! Love it. I’d give this a go and hope that it’s as hilarious as I am thinking it might be.

Janet: Neat tagline. The synopsis has a slight edge to it that might mean this isn’t mush. But I’m not convinced quite enough to wade through the “inseparable” bit in order to find out. If it is as hilarious as Steph predicts, she’ll let us know, right? :)

Nafiza: The synopsis used two buzz-words that ensure I will never pick this up. “Soul mate.” (Or one word if you consider soulmate.) Anyway, no. Nope. Naaaaahi. The cover is snazzy though. I like it. It just doesn’t make me want to read the book.

Yash: Didn’t we just do the whole “miraculous”, “mysterious boy” thing? Anyway, the cover doesn’t do it for me. It’s like a t-shirt you’d find at Adrenaline (a tattoo and piercing place in Vancouver– super-nice staff, BTW) … which isn’t to say it’s bad. It’s just not what would catch my eye. That heart is just so … clip-art. *shudder*


Billy Zeets has a story to tell.

About being a vandal and petty thief.

About missing boys and an elusive killer.

And about what happens if a boy who breaks all the rules is the only person who can piece together the truth.

Gripping and powerful, this masterful debut novel comes to vivid life through the unique voice of a hero as unlikely as he is unforgettable.

Steph: Hmmm, it has potential. What I’m really hoping is that there will be a killer twist at the end, that would seal it for me. Like Billy is actually the elusive killer or has thought up a way to escape or something… I don’t know. Because otherwise we get a lot of anti-hero stories of woe and truth (but we can’t quite believe them) and hey, why aren’t there any female protagonists in this sort of story?

Janet: The cover reminds me of the covers for Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Shadow Children books. Despite that, I’m not captivated. The cabin and woods look ominous. The silhouetted boy looks tough, off-beat, and maybe a little vulnerable. But there’s nothing new here, especially with that last line of the synopsis. A sentence along those lines is used to sell book after book after book. Which is a shame, because it reveals way too much and is way too obvious. The o-word again. Publishers, take notice: I’m much more eager to read books when I don’t know what happens.

Nafiza: I feel like I’m being inordinately mean this cover wars but truth be told, none of these appeal to me all that much (apart from the mg title above). And this one…hmm, nope. The cover is too generic. There’s nothing in particular that distinguishes from other books in the same sub-genre. Though the title is fascinating and makes me wonder what it would be like to converse with the night.

Yash: Um, no. Too many guys, no humanization of the victims (they’re just a number), and not a single female character. Sorry, not my thing. I do, however, like the title and I like how it is bright against the dark cover, as well as how it dwarfs the guy. It’s compelling– just not for me.

2 responses to “The Cover Wars

  1. Invincible- Awesome use of negative space and colors.
    Alive- The cover goes with what the book is about and the contrast between the pink and grey immediately caught my attention. It would be my pick for “all around getting the job done”
    The Sound of Life and Everything- I like the illustration, it’s definitely attention grabbing and colorful. This is probably the book I’ll end up actually buying just because of the story.

    As for the rest…the covers don’t really seem that different from other books of the genre. Maybe that is the goal, which is fine.

    Great post you guys. I’ll be looking here when I’m thinking for design inspiration :) Looking forward to the next post!

  2. A School for Unusual Girls sounded interesting until the last line *sigh*

    I am almost certain that at some point readers will find out that Stella’s new heart actually belongs to new friend Levi, and that is why Alive’s cover has such a clip arty heart and that grabbing but off kilter tag line.

    Thanks for another entertaining installment!

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