The Cover Wars


“Be careful. Your next step may be your last.”
Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodbridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Wilson challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya reluctantly follows. They soon get lost, and they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined.
In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the U.S. Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world.

Nafiza: The cover didn’t convince me to read this book, the synopsis did. I mean, the cover is…well, I like part of it. The upper part. The lower part is, as intended, scary and sinister. The synopsis very nicely points to the diversity present in the book and hints at some important narratives such as bullying and environmental concerns. I’ll read this but first I’ll cover the scary part with brown paper or something.

Janet: I like the cover: I like that the children are far away and dwarfed by the trees and earth, and that while the cover has an eerie feel, it doesn’t devolve into corniness or outright terror. The synopsis – well, I’ve read an interview with the author about this book, and even if the synopsis wasn’t this appealing, I’d read this. I WILL read this as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Yash: I don’t like the cover. It’s not a bad cover. Just that I don’t like it: it’s something about the fuzzy title and that particular shade of yellow. It’s off-putting. And all the blank muddy space– which, I guess, is the point but it doesn’t get my attention. The synopsis sounds like … sci-fi? Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe not for me.


When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?

In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings — and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late — and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself.

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is After Alice.

Nafiza: The cover is not very appealing–in fact, it is rather boring. But I adored Maguire’s Egg and Spoon, Baba Yaga and Mewster remain my favourite characters (and I know a reader who’ll agree with me). I’ve read Maguire’s previous retellings and though not all of them were amazing, they do present aspects of the original world that may have been overlooked by either readers or the writer. He seeks to tell stories about the smaller things, giving them attention and having them bloom. I rather like that. Anyway, Maguire’s wordsmithery is such that I will give this a chance. You can’t read Egg and Spoon and not read this.

Janet: The sideways slant and font of the title are the most memorable things about the cover – and Gregory Maguire’s name, of course. The synopsis is appealing but (big but) I’ve read a few of Maguire’s other retellings and most of them left me with an uneasy, unhappy feeling. They were unquestionably fascinating and probing. But. I might wait for Nafiza’s word. (Or read Egg and Spoon in the meantime?)

Yash: Now this cover I like! I love the title and the font, the waiting rabbit, and the falling alice (or is it Ada?). While I did love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, there aren’t many adaptations I would have reached for. I think Maguire could do it really well. Plus, the synopsis is so interesting. Can’t wait to meet Ada!


An emotionally-charged debut novel about the deadly lies hidden beneath a destructive friendship.
One year ago, two best friends, Liv and Julia, were attacked in the woods by a paroled predator. In an attempt to save Liv, Julia was left behind while Liv escaped. After spending three days in the woods trying to escape her abductor, Julia was rescued. She only remembers what happened in the woods in terrifying flashbacks. Now, on the eve of the anniversary of the attack, a body is found in the woods. This discovery rips open fresh wounds between the two girls as the truth about Liv’s role in the kidnapping is revealed.

Nafiza: I don’t know how I feel about this cover. I mean, I think I like it but then I think about how uncomfortable sleeping like that must be. And then I think how helpless this girl is, sleeping away, an unaware meal for any predator in the woods. Not a good idea, girl. The synopsis is not very appealing to me simply because I’ve read other synopses that basically say the same thing and well, this book is not really my genre. So…I guess I’d pick this up and stare at the cover, maybe read a page but that’s probably it.

Janet: Sleeping in the woods can be perfectly comfortable but the cover leaves me very uncomfortable. The girl looks too vulnerable. She has been poised to look vulnerable – slightly disturbed by dreams, perhaps, but altogether naive and open. I mistrust the – dare I say fetishization? – of innocent-looking girls and vulnerability, which so often on covers go hand in hand with seated or lying down positions, and forests or flowers. I would have to hear convincing reviews praising the depth of the writing, say, to read this. As Nafiza said, not my thing – but it could be done well enough for me to try.

Yash: It’s interesting that when I first glanced at the cover, I thought it was a sleeping faerie girl. As it turns out, yikes, I could not be more wrong. I am … interested. Cautiously hopeful that this won’t be awful, that it might even be good, and not just a thriller that uses assault as a plot device rather than the complex issue it is. I do like that it recognizes the friendship as a bad one right off the start. Not many YA books on that issue. Yes. I’m in.


A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

Nafiza: The hair. Hah. Why are her clothes down when the wind is so strong that her hair has been blown up? And the pose is a bit ridiculous but I love that she’s carrying a book. It also has that unexpected magic power trope that I love so much BUT I feel like the diversity in this one will be below zero. And there’s a sorcerer prince which also points at a potential insta-love. I don’t know. I do love the library apprentice part though. I’d flip through this to get a feel for the writing before I made any decisions.

Janet: *Agrees with Nafiza about the hair and pose* and the ridiculously swirly clothes. Also, why the roses? I do very much like the idea of a library apprentice, and the emphasis on the high price of indecision; a refreshing change from the more common push towards making the (usually obvious) right choice.

Yash: I like this cover. I like that it’s called Air Awakens so, to me, it makes sense that air magic is a character on the cover. I also like that she has a book, though the swirly-ness is making anatomy hard– how is she holding that book? My favourite thing about it is that it is a wholly illustrated cover. Such a nice change.


Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

Nafiza: Steph (or was it Janet) is going to hate me for the birds but I like the cover and I like the synopsis. I think it could function well as a crossover novel. We’ll see when I read it.

Janet: Nope, I like the birds, although I wonder why, if the title is All the Birds in the Sky, only swallows are depicted. I like the twist of humour in the first paragraph, although I’m not sure about the sudden jump from plural third-person (first sentence) to singular first-person (second sentence). I like the emphasis on friendship (even if it develops into romance) and the happy conjunction of technology and magic, which I don’t recall seeing in YA since Mercedes Lackey’s Mage Storm trilogy. (Except for the works of Diana Wynne Jones. Who is magical. And scientific?) I would take a look at the first few pages.

Yash: Steph’s annoyance with birds is spreading to me. This looks like a design Chapters would put on their notebooks. I do like that this is an intentionally hipster cover though. And it has magic, so that’s neat. It’s just not for me. It’ll be fine. People will love this.

One response to “The Cover Wars

  1. This is fun a fun idea! I love this ‘game’ so to say. I like to make covers in my spare time, so I love the comments you share. Thank you for doing these. I look forward to seeing more of them.

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