This is the second edition of Cover Duels, a feature where I analyze the merits of young adult book covers based on typography, creativity, graphics, wow factor, and relevance to the story. Last week the United Kingdom took the cake with its snappy color choices and the stunning visuals of The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. So can our friends abroad continue the trend? Or has the United States upped its game? Previously both covers represented very similar ideals; using a basic color palette and gender neutral images. Stick around though to see a different side of the story as I break down the design choices of the U.S. Balzer + Bray and Sweden’s Lavender Lit, both going in very different directions with the universally acclaimed Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy.
United States- Balzer + Bray chose a very concise, to the point design that gives prospective readers a clear knowledge of what the book is about. Not a bad decision all things considered, as it allows for a target demographic of late teenage girls to be singled out. I also feel like the graphics are in keeping with the ideal readers taste; bold yet not obnoxiously so, clearly a semi-chick lit contemporary, and starring a diverse protagonist. The tagline of the book “Go Big or Go Home” aptly sums up the story of the book, and I love how it was featured front and center on the cover. While all those merits are great, and will certainly contribute to sales, I feel like the overall package is a bit boring. There’s the crown, the tagline, and Willowdean herself; but that’s it. This would never be a book I think anyone would proudly display on their bookshelf as it simply does not provide much interest. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing for all, I’m sure there are plenty of fans of the basic design out there. I’m just not one of them. Perhaps though that is in keeping with my less than favorable opinions of the book?
Sweden- Lavender Lit chose a design that is distinctly foreign in its layout, style, and watercolor-esque artwork. The hand drawn imagining of Clover City and Willowdean is unique to say the least, and would definitely stand out amongst a sea of computer animated models. I also appreciate how it took the all important setting- small, conservative, football and pageant obsessed- and made it front in center in the reader’s mind. Especially in Dumplin’ case where the story would not be the same without the rural atmosphere, it was nice to see the designers pay homage to the origins of Miss. Teen Blue Bonnet. Much like the American edition though, I do have some trepidations that hold me back from really falling in love with it. Firstly, the thing I applauded it for- being original in its trendsetting design- is something I’m not so sure I truly love. Maybe it’s because I’ve just never seen a cover produced in the same way before, but it honestly looks more like a Wes Anderson film poster than a young adult book. I also don’t feel it really paints an accurate picture of the book’s contents, this story really could be about anything that involves a red ballgown.
Winner: United States
While I may find Sweden’s rendering to be more aesthetically appealing, the United States cover could not do a better job presenting the book’s storyline to a potential reader- a must I feel in the overcrowded market that is contemporaries.
So what do you guys think, did the U.S. deserve to score big this week? Also (for those of you that have read the book), what were your thoughts on Dumplin’? Happy reading!