It’s an increasingly common phenomenon in the Young Adult book community. A fiction sin akin to the likes of dog ears. That is a beautiful, breathtaking, life altering cover masquerading as a similarly mind blowing book. But of course, it’s all a deceit. The real story is a meandering mess, the likes of which makes you twitch at the urge to fix all the writerly errors committed. And now the work of a talented designer has gone to waste, as this piece of art can never be featured on your bookshelf. As graphic design makes increasing advances in the world of book covers, I run into this great injustice at an alarming rate. So, in honor of all those dust jackets sentenced to a life of abandonment, we hold a blogger vigil- may they forever remain in our memory.
1.Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Nicola Yoon’s debut has caught a flack by me since I read Everything, Everything last September, because of which I’m sure you’re tired of hearing my rants about it. But as soon as I started selecting books for the topic of beautiful cover > horrid plot, I knew I couldn’t skip this poster child for the phenomenon. Because that dust jacket? It’s goals. The top half so perfectly represents the starkness of protagonist Madeline’s life, that is until it explodes into life and color with the arrival of Olly. That beautiful artwork doesn’t just stop at the cover, it extends throughout the story with quirky illustrations here and there that were my favorite part of the whole story. And though I would love to have it featured on my bookshelf as a sight to behold, the horrible (in my opinion) story it contains holds me back. I would always have PTRD (Post Traumatic Reader Disorder a.k.a flashbacks to sin against fiction), as I think of the ending that goes against every writerly teaching in the book. The cover definitely hooked me in, but the story line reeled me back.
2.Winterkill by Kate Boorman
My absolute least favorite book of 2015 also has an AWESOME cover- go figure. I love the snowy landscape, back dropped by threadbare cabins and a 1700’s era girl fleeing. Not to mention the ominous fence spelling out the title, it’s eerily perfect and sets the tone for everything the story could have been. Similar to Everything, Everything I would love to have Winterkill in a spot of honor on my shelf, but I just can’t do it. First of all, the whole plot is basically just one big rip off of The Village that makes even less sense than its source material. Then that’s accompanied by a straight up creepy, borderline stalkerish love triangle. Of which all three parties are about as developed as cardboard. You guys know how much importance I put on characterization, and I just can’t welcome subpar craftsmanship into my life! This was Kate Boorman’s debut, and in writing this post I checked her up to see if she had since published anything new. She has…in the form of two sequels to a first novel I felt had nothing going for it. As is the tagline for book #2, I will unfortunately not “Risk the unknown path” to an inevitable conclusion of a 1 star rating.
3.Matched by Ally Condie
I’m going old school (or circa 2012) by including the award winning Matched by Ally Condie on this compilation. It’s definitely the one book here that received near universal exposure in light of The Hunger Games craze, so maybe I’ll find a fellow reader who stands united in my stance of beautiful cover, disappointing story. Obviously I adore the dustjacket, I think it’s artfully simplistic and near perfect in its representation of protagonist Cassia’s life stuck in the bubble of her utopian society’s expectations. Theresa Evangelista further secured herself as one of my all-time favorite designer’s ever, as she continued the powerful theme throughout the rest of the trilogy. Needless to say though the story was massively underwhelming for me, and one of my least favorite THG spinoffs to date. While the covers may portray Cassia breaking out of the mold set for her, the characterization was quite to the contrary and followed tried and trued formulas that left nothing to stand out in my mind. A majorly misleading flop.
4.The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder
Normally I’m the kind of reader who plans out her TBR months in advance, refuses to buy a book without first consulting Goodreads, and generally sticks to only tried and true authors. There is a rare occasion though where I throw caution to the wind and buy a book purely on cover lust. The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder was the latest of that phenomenon. I read it on a whim because, well, that cover! It’s whimsical, dreamy, and quite frankly it makes my artsy hipster sense tingle. It looks like it belongs on an Instagram account I would follow in a heartbeat. Too bad though the part that really counts, the pages of words, was a hot mess. The ending is so irritatingly coy it left me going WTH (but not in a good way), not to mention that even if it had been the best finale in the history of fiction it still wouldn’t have done anything to bump its rating up from 1 star. The story was meandering and horrible, I still to this day don’t know how it was published, and the God awful characters did nothing to help the cause. My civil service PSA for the day, do not read at all costs!
5.Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
I’ve already gone on and on about my love for the cover of April Genevieve Tucholke’s second novel, Wink. Poppy. Midnight. It’s eerily gorgeous and exactly the kind of graphic art that makes me excited for a novel. On the same card I’ve also expressed my hesitation to actually read it, having had a mixed to negative reaction towards her debut: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. I was similarly enchanted by the latter’s artwork, it was dark and gothic and promised to be exactly the kind of romantic horror I was in the mood for one Halloween season. I guess I should have known that Tucholke was setting up to tell her story in layer upon layer of neverending purple prose. But alas, I did not, and was thusly transported to monotonous descriptions of Violet’s mundane life that I’m sure Tucholke was patting herself on the back for. I felt scammed but not exactly lied too. After all, the whole cover did scream modern Dracula in a way (precisely what hooked me), so it wasn’t like I failed to be warned. Definitely a situation of “It’s me, not you” but still a novel I will never sing praise to.
So do you agree with my picks? Any other beautiful covers that let you down with their plot? Let me know in the comments!
-Keep Calm and Read On