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28

Aug

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. This design demonstrates the importance of perspective. Tilt the cover 90 degrees and you’d have a relatively interesting photo, but nothing fantastic. Yet this visual is gorgeous and impossible to look away from. The ripples of the water’s surface extend vertically with the length of the girl’s body, even as her auburn hair, flowing white dress, and bright red ribbon float perpendicular to her limp form. Due to the scene’s strange angle, her reflection within the ripples creates a sort of distorted portal, something to mirror her fears. The beautiful blue underwater surroundings set an oddly peaceful mood, yet the red ribbon starkly contrasts such a notion. The girl’s free-floating form and the ribbon wrapped around her arm like a trail of blood leads viewers to believe that this story is far from peaceful. My only complaint is the rather obvious, not to mention trite, tagline, though these are (unfortunately) common with YA covers.

Readers’ Average Rating: B

07

Jul

I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl by Kelle Groom. This cover is lovely, and not just because of its fantastic title. The graceful, unraveling blue scarf (or perhaps ribbon) creates an intense contrast against the billowing, stormy clouds in the background. The photography is beautiful, touched just right with an effect that is somehow both sharp and hazy, an eye-popping combination that is very popular right now. The bright blue of the scarf is gorgeous and likely symbolic of two words in the title: “ocean” and “shape.” The delicate, curly typography weaved into the scarf adds just the right feminine appeal for the memoir detailing a woman’s descent into alcoholism. This design is both aesthetically stunning and incredibly effective at creating visual (and textual) allegory.

Readers’ Average Rating: B

07

Jun

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. This is a pretty risky cover, but the designers pulled it off. Why risky? Because viewers have to adjust to two very different color schemes and two very different themes simultaneously. On the left side you have formal, bordered black and white parchment, complete with standard serif text and the stagnant image of a rabbit. Yet this side appears to have been ripped away to reveal the invading right side, which boasts psychedelic colors, shredded typography, funky texture, and a ferocious leopard, apparently out to eat the rabbit. It isn’t quite an inversion, but close. Yet this Jekyll-and-Hyde design speaks to the “madness” within the pages, which is somewhat unsurprising given the title. Rarely do we see covers with such outrageous contrast, but the risk is ultimately one worth taking.

Readers’ Average Rating: B+

27

May

The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky. The artwork here is gorgeous. YA titles often have dazzling cover designs, but rarely through illustration, as is the case with this novel. The most stunning part of the cover is of course the dress, which is awash in sparkles, texture, and bounce. It is so grand that it seems to be wearing the girl, rather than the girl wearing it. The girl herself is clearly depicted as illustration, but it works terrifically with the dress and the background of subtle creams and pink baubles. The typography within the dress is fun, feminine, and fitting for such an interesting title. The black of the font does well to remind us of the other black accents, like the girl’s hair and stockings. This is a marvelous design that perfectly eludes to a girl’s journey through time and fashion.

Readers’ Average Rating: B+

25

May

The Archaeology of Home by Katharine Greider. The use of selected color in this design is magnificent. Immediately the eye is drawn to the color gradient that highlights a specific Lower East Side apartment in this photograph. The gradient fades from red to white to turquoise, like a funky patriotic theme, breathing unnatural life into the old structure. This apartment literally stands out from the rest of the black and white photo, which is a great illustration of the story to come. I like that the edges of the cover (and photo) are beset with faded smudges, a grunge look before grunge was cool. Finally, the use of the titles slanted to the perspective of the street line and building rise is indeed a clever (and appropriate, considering the ties to architecture) design move. If the story is as interesting at the cover, readers of memoirs will want to pick this one up.

Readers’ Average Rating: B-

23

May

In Stitches by Anthony Youn. One look at this cover inspires intrigue, if not fascination. Between the title and certain visuals, viewers can ascertain that this is a memoir concerning a medical incident. Yet the design is set up so creatively that even those not normally interested in said memoirs must look twice. The cream and tan color scheme intermixed with bright red provides an appropriately sterile design with bits of pizazz. The Barbie doll torso and arms on either side of a red candy sucker suggests a number of puzzling possibilities. I love the band-aid backdrop for the author’s title, yet another indication of the story’s medical premise. I must admit that the design is somewhat misleading, however—judging by the Barbie body parts, I would have guessed this memoir surrounded a woman’s tale of the body, not a man’s tale of the mouth. Even so, the cover is a success in terms of cleverness and color.

Readers’ Average Rating: B+

19

May

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus. It’s unusual (and brave) to see a YA design devoid of color, but I find the desaturated state of this cover appropriate and effective. The black background provides extreme contrast to the titles. The reel of film looks at home in a black and white setting, and the way it winds and curves off into black oblivion gives viewers a sense of fading history. Only two photographs are clear to the eye, though even these are cloudy and vague. The two young women represent the storyline surrounding two best friends, one of whom finds love in photography. The haze of the photos likely symbolizes the way the two friends drift apart, for excruciating reasons. The design is simple but bespeaks the sorrow surrounding this young friendship.

Readers’ Average Rating: B+

17

May

I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson. Pink is a bold design choice, even in women’s fiction, but the hue suits this cover. The lovely shade of pink used for the background is not overly bright, but maintains a feminine appeal. I’m a fan of simple, focal shapes, which is why I enjoy the use of the record as a smooth, circular visual point. The record also acts as symbol of the 1970s musician “character” in the book. The sleek black of the record surrounds the inner red circle, a clever way to bring attention to the novel’s title while embedding it in the visual. This curved title appeal is further explored on the outer rim of the record, with the white letters showing a nice contrast. Nearly all of the words on the cover are white, even though set against different colored backgrounds, which is another favorable consistency. Finally, the lipstick print on the record adds a touch of fun, feminine mystique.

Readers’ Average Rating: B

12

May

One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde. I love absurdity, especially when it’s found on a book cover. This sequel’s design raises more questions than it answers, which seems perfectly appropriate given the novel’s title. The blue background is streaked in light beams that reach up and spread across the title. The title itself is blurred and evidently part of the background, which is an unusual and bold move. The author’s title, on the other hand, is commanding with its bright yellow and serif facade. What I like best about the design is the visual scene—a bookshelf containing old paperbacks on the precipice of a fall, followed by a Norman Rockwell-type illustration of a woman who actually is falling. Evidently, the books have upset her of her spot on the shelf. The scene does an excellent job of alluding to the literal and metaphorical literary world of the story.

Readers’ Average Rating: B+

05

May

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. Although it is not necessarily the visual element one notices first when looking at this cover, I most enjoy the way the titles of the novel are made of colorful gradients—reds, pinks, oranges, yellows all fading together. The typography itself is very elegant and fitting of a story whose words center around a “beautiful girl.” The sparse, elongated curve of a letter, an “N” here, an “R” there, brings something subtle yet dainty to the design—much like the silhouetted woman herself. She is not, however, completely shadowed in, and her side profile manages to emit a sense of vulnerability and strength at once. The stray curls of her hair fall in line with the elegant curled typography. These visuals triumphantly convey the title character, a woman who, though considered “disabled,” finds a way to love and be loved in return.

Readers’ Average Rating: A-