Welcome to Smugglivus 2011! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2011, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2012.
Who: Posh, Meghan, Erin, Megan No H and Jenny, the fabulous girls behind one of our fave YA blogs: Forever Young Adult. Their contribution to Smugglivus is, in true Smugglivus Spirit, their Airing of Grievances with a breakdown of the worst cover trends of 2011.
Please give it up for Posh, Meghan, Erin, Megan No H and Jenny!
Top Five Worst Cover Trends of 2011
Analyzed by Posh
So, Big Face Cover, WE MEET AGAIN. Out of all of the trends in YA covers, you seem to be the most invincible, although the source of your power still eludes me. Perhaps publishers truly believe that a teenage girl will see a book with a face on it and think, “Hey, that girl reminds me of myself! Because we both have a face! Therefore I must buy this book immediately!” This trend cares nothing for character accuracy– unless the main character happens to be a teenage model– and continues to decimate bookstore shelves across the country. Seriously, there is nothing more horrifying than wandering into your friendly local YA section and feeling the creepy stare of a dozen huge faces. I can only pray that in 2012, we can finally defeat this trend with a big fat “IN YOUR FACE!”
OFFENDER: Deadly Cool
What is this, a Maybelline ad? Ix-nay on the heavy liquid eyeliner, girlfriend! You don’t need to be directing any more attention to those lifeless eyes. In fact, it’s tough to tell whether that’s supposed to be the main character or the dead girl found in the first chapter. If it’s the latter, GROSS. If it’s the former, WHY DOES THE MAIN CHARACTER HAVE A DEAD FACE? To give me nightmares involving earbuds that come to life and spell slang words? To make me feel bad that my complexion isn’t as smooth as a dead teenager’s? It certainly wasn’t to get me to purchase this book, because there is no way in Hades I’m letting Ole Dead Eyes live on my shelf.
OFFENDER: Texas Gothic
This cover hints at another threat on the 2012 horizon: a face… with hair over it. Mark my words, people: YOU WILL SEE THIS AGAIN. And again. And again. It’s a shame that this trend appears on this book, since a) I actually liked the book b) The main character would never, ever stick her lips out. like that and press her hair against her face because WHO WOULD DO THAT? AND WHY? WHY?!!! It certainly can’t be her reaction to seeing a ghost, CAN IT? Because why would you make a sexy face for a ghost? Answer: Because the ghost is Patrick Swayze. That is the ONLY CORRECT RESPONSE. And I’m sorry to tell you that Patrick Swayze is not in this book.
TREND: Random Objects in Cupped Hands
Analyzed by Meghan
I don’t know what’s worse: what this book cover trend says: “Hey! I want to give you the gift of a bunch of chicken feathers/glitter confetti/dog poop,” or what it’s TRYING to say: “Oh, you liked Twilight? Well, here’s another book JUST LIKE IT!” Haha, who am I kidding? I’d rather read a book about dog poop than another Twiclone, and glitter confetti is hella awesome.
OFFENDER: Darkest Mercy
Not only does this book have glitter, it has a magical, glittery flower! And what’s with the pale girl in the background? Why can’t we see more of her dress? It looks like it might be kind of pretty, but there’s too much photoshopped sparkle going on to tell. I’m glad she went bold with her lipstick — with her paleness, it’s a gamble — but it’s maybe too matchy-matchy with the floral accessory, you know? All in all, it’s like the book cover’s trying to say it’s JUST like Twilight, only with fairies or something.
OK, so, duh, this one wasn’t originally published in 2011, but I CAN NOT HANDLE IT. Since when does Jane Austen need to be sold as Stephenie Meyer? First of all, Anne Elliott would NEVER wear lipstick that shade of red (her sister Elizabeth might), and only harlots painted their nails, and second, Captain Wentworth doesn’t need to send roses because if Anne’s bloomers didn’t burst into flames when he wrote that she pierced his soul, NOTHING would have convinced her. Also, Meyer doesn’t even mention Austen — she’s a Wuthering Heights fan, in case the abusive puppy-killing boyfriend didn’t tip you off. Not even Catherine Morland could have gotten carried away by Twilight (although now that I look at it, she probably would have found this cover of Persuasion to be pretty romantic).
TREND: Floating Bodies
Analyzed by Erin
What’s up with all the floating bodies on book covers these days? Has the Law of Gravity been declared unconstitutional by runaway Supreme Court judges and this new trend is a grassroots effort to reverse years of civil rights abuses exacted on humans by the moon’s evil and mysterious henchmen? Or are we just trying to be arty and figure portraits of old dudes wearing silly collars and ruffles is played out? Either way (and I’m throwing my money behind the moon henchmen, personally. Which is awkward; since they are on the moon when I throw money behind them, the money sort of just slowly floats away.), I am not a fan. Let’s take a look at two of the top offenders:
OFFENDER: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Say what you will about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (and Ana and I have both said plenty), whether you liked the book or not, even you cannot deny that this book cover has NOTHING to do with the story. Why is Mara Dyer in a pool? Where can I get that dress? Why haven’t alligators/crocodiles (depending on the version you read) attacked that dude for strangling her? Is he strangling her or is that Noah? If that is Noah, can he just drown in that pool and save me the trouble of trying to hunt him down and kill him for sucking the life out of everything he touches? Also WHERE CAN I GET THAT DRESS?
OFFENDER: The Carrier of the Mark
I mean, yes, okay, it looks cool, and who doesn’t want an evening gown that turns into ink? You could go to a fancy party AND scrapbook about that party at the same time! But why is she floating in the air? Why does her dress turn into ink? Why is she wearing a formal gown in the first place; this isn’t prom, for Christ’s sake. Also, I can’t help but think that the whole floating girl image is meant to distract us all from what should be our main concern in life: what is up with that chick’s face? It’s like her hair cuts off half of her skull and the bad angles make it look like she has lost her eyes and nose, along with her left arm. I haven’t read this book yet, but it’s not about a girl with lovely hair, no face and missing one arm and how she still finds inspiration to put on an evening gown every day and scrapbook with it, is it?
(On a related note, someone please write a book about a girl with no face who is missing one arm and wears a ballgown constantly. I have been a very good girl this year and this is my Christmas Wish.)
TREND Headless T and/or A
Analyzed by Megan No H
Headless girls are a tragically common occurrence in YA covers. You’ve seen them before – the photograph of the girl, with part or all of her head cut off by a side of the book cover. Perhaps she is just legs or a torso. I suppose the idea is that the reader, unable to see a model’s face, will be better able to project themselves onto the protagonist. But isn’t that why people have imaginations? And possibly, just maybe, some readers don’t need to pretend they are the characters they read about. And certainly don’t want to project themselves onto heroines who are awful. All of this is to say I cannot understand why the headless girl trend persists. But the worst offenders are those covers (who by virtue of poor choices in clothing or focal point) turn our headless girl into a literal T and A show.
OFFENDER: What Happened To Goodbye
Honestly, there are things to like about this cover. But I just cannot get past the fact that I am staring at some girl’s butt. This is a perfectly normal and acceptable teen outfit. I mean, it’s just jeans. I love jeans. Jeans are all I ever wear. But even as a tall girl, it’s not often people are looking up at my butt. I just really think this cover could have benefited from the addition of both a torso and human head.
OFFENDER: Invincible Summer
This is what happens when a fictional serial killer gets a hold of a book character, cuts her up and disposes her various parts on a beach. And then someone sees her limbless torso, takes a picture and slaps it on a book cover. But seriously, who is this cover’s intended audience? I am certainly capable of enjoying pictures of a lovely lady in a bathing suit. But a body without a head can be dehumanizing. And I don’t like my ladies dehumanized. Maybe this cover is meant to attract the illusive teen male demographic. But are they really going to pick this book over a stack of Maxims? Oh, and in case you can’t get over how bizarrely shaped this body seems? On the right? Those are her boobs, not her butt. It took me entirely too long to realize that.
TREND: FANCY DRESSES
Analyzed by Jenny
Ah, fancy dresses. I often look for excuses to wear the fancy dress in my day to day life, BUT there are limits. Like, say, a fancy dress might be okay for a dinner or themed party, but I wouldn’t wear one to yoga class or while walking my dog. Likewise, when I’m reading about the misadventures of a dystopian war princess, I like to visualize her in appropriate clothing. So while I might be a fan of the fancy dress… it needs to know its place.
What the what? Not only would I never wear that because it’s not 1994 anymore, but the whole picture looks SO uncomfortable! I mean, the angle of the way she’s standing, and the arms and the tilt of her head, and the hair over her face! This speaks not of traveling through time to understand your love, but of being very, very depressed. About something. Maybe she’s just morose because she’s a manipulation of an actual photo where they took an already skinny girl and denied her digital image digital sandwiches until she achieved the desired manipulated skinny-erness? I don’t know, but the only way this cover would get my attention would because I’d wonder what was wrong with it and why it was so sad.
OFFENDER: Shatter Me
Because when you’re in solitary confinement in a futuristic prison, no one can hear taffeta scream. This dress. I just… don’t understand what is going on with it. I want Mara Dyer’s dress. But yeah, does she just have her hands on her hips, or is she holding up a big part of her dress in a huge poof, so she won’t accidentally touch someone? I can’t decide if this is supposed to be our lead character at a fashion show from sparkleland, or if she’s a blushing bride at a sparkleland wedding. Either way, this cover made me recoil from it like it was a bag of snakes.
Thanks, Posh, Erin, Meghan, Megan no h, and Jenny!
And what about YOU? What is, in your opinion, the worst cover of 2011? Rant away!