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Smugglivus 2011 Guest Bloggers: Forever Young Adult

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

TREND: FACE!
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.

OFFENDER: Persuasion

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.

OFFENDER: Passion

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!

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44 Comments

  • Ana
    December 14, 2011 at 8:23 am

    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.

    😯 I always thought it was her butt. 😆

  • Liz
    December 14, 2011 at 8:25 am

    This is hilarious! I am so glad I’m not the only one who objects to the huge face cover.

  • Amy @ Tripping Over Books
    December 14, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Honorable mention gross cover trend? FEET. With no visible bodies. Maybe that’s for next year!

  • April Books & Wine
    December 14, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I thought it was the girl’s butt too and not her chest. This post was enlightening!

    Also, I am so glad I am not the only one who disliked Shatter Me’s cover. I remember when it was revealed and everyone was going ape-shiz over it and I felt like the only person who was really underwhelmed.

  • Megan Swicegood
    December 14, 2011 at 8:47 am

    This post is hysterically funny and awesome. And I loved it. All of it.

  • erin
    December 14, 2011 at 10:06 am

    LADIES! Thank you so much for having us over!! Champ cans for all!

  • Shannon H
    December 14, 2011 at 10:07 am

    April, I hate the Shatter Me cover as well. I read an ARC and when I saw the actual book all I could think was that there is no way you can be in any fashion badass when you are wearing an ugly ruffle dress that kind of looks like a cake…

  • Linda
    December 14, 2011 at 10:52 am

    This is hilarious!! For the record, I also had the wrong idea about the Invincible Summer cover. And I’m shocked at the Persuasion cover. Is the idea to appeal to twenty-first century teens? As if they wouldn’t realize that the person on the cover looks nothing like Anne Elliot (who also wouldn’t have red nail polish) 😀 ?

  • Doret
    December 14, 2011 at 10:57 am

    This is my favorite Smugglivus post so far.

    “Because why would you make a sexy face for a ghost? Answer: Because the ghost is Patrick Swayze. That is the ONLY CORRECT RESPONSE.” Had me laughing from gut.

  • capillya
    December 14, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Okay, I’ll be honest, when I saw the list go up for this week’s schedule I was like, “Oh, good, if people hate my post at least FYA will make up for it.” BECAUSE I LOVE THESE GIRLS. Like, really REALLY LOVE THEM. So the fact that they all gathered their hilariously charming and entertaining brains together to write about covers made my cover-lovin’ fangirly heart explode.

    There are SO MANY parts of this post that make me fistpump and want to high five someone (namely all of them), but I think what had me completely lose it was when Jenny said, “Because when you’re in solitary confinement in a futuristic prison, no one can hear taffeta scream.” *bursts into a fit of embarrassing laughter*

  • Amber
    December 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I always thought it was her butt too! I am on the Face Train here. So many faces and non-faces on covers – just make it stop!

  • Jordyn
    December 14, 2011 at 11:41 am

    It also took me forever to figure out the body position on Invincible Summer. I had to stare at the cover for like ten minutes before I sort of started to get it.

    Weirdly though I agree with all the trends awfulness here, there are certain covers in certain trends that I just LOVE (like the cover of Imaginary Girls, which I think is being redone as a paperback with the whole face/hair thing – ugh).

  • Simone St. James
    December 14, 2011 at 11:49 am

    As wonderful as Smugglivus is, my favorite part is *always* the airing of the grievances.

    This is no exception. Hilarious!

  • SandyG265
    December 14, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I’m not a fna of huge face covers either.

  • Ceilidh
    December 14, 2011 at 11:56 am

    The pretty skinny white girl on a prom dress cover trend bugs me beyond belief. It’s so uninspired and shallow. There’s already been some great discussion on the dead girl cover trend so I won’t go into it too much but it is a worrying continuation of a trend we’ve seen time and time again in advertising. It dehumanises women and makes them into objects. Jean Kilbourne did the fantastic Killing Us Softly series on the trends of women in advertising, which is available on YouTube and I highly recommend it.

  • Serenity
    December 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    maybe they’re trying to save money on models? Head on one cover, body on another cover, two for the price of one!

  • Poshdeluxe
    December 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks for letting us rant all over yr site, ladies! And Capillya, WE LOVE YOU TOO.

  • Denise Deegan
    December 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    As the author of YA books with Big Cover Faces, I still laughed (a lot)at this blog. Especially liked: ‘But even as a tall girl, it’s not often people are looking up at my butt.’

  • KMont
    December 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    One of the best posts I’ve evah read. EVAH. The face trend was by far my favorite part.

  • Beverly Hill
    December 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    a friend of mine said i should post this link re: jane austen’s reference in twilight….http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2008/09/28/twilight-and-the-jane-austen-connection/

    so SM does mention jane austen 🙂 also the reference is mentioned in midnight sun when edward sees bella reading austen’s book….

    just a fyi 🙂

    thanks!

  • Jenny
    December 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks so much for having us, ladies! I’m another person who thought the boobs were the butt in Invincible Summer, and I’m so glad I’m not the only one who spent too much time to figure it out.
    Capillya, I’m SO glad I was able to make you laugh!!!

  • Marg @ Clockwork Reverie
    December 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Because when you’re in solitary confinement in a futuristic prison, no one can hear taffeta scream. This dress.

    This entire post made me chortle, but the above bit made me nearly fall out of my seat with uncontrollable laughter. I LOATH that cover. It is so ridiculous when compared to what the story is actually about. Plus, the dress is uber fugly.

  • KateB
    December 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I think there is ONE other time when that face is the correct response to seeing a ghost: Jesse from the Mediator series. But I am guessing that the girl in the book got to see neither Patrick Swayze nor Jesse. Poor her.

  • Laura Kaye
    December 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I can’t stop laughing! This was priceless. And I totally thought it was her butt, too! I agreed with every commentary. Thanks for the lolz!

  • tanya
    December 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    the wicked lovely series has had covers like that since book one and is NOTHING like the twi books. there lovely.

  • Megan no h
    December 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I almost didn’t mention the boobs/butt switch, because I assumed maybe it was a personal problem. But I guess not! See, this is why heads and limbs help 😀

  • melissa @ 1lbr
    December 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    I made no less than 3 lists involving these cover trends. There are an inordinately large number of floating girls, hands offering “gifts” and pretty dresses in YA lit. And the Shatter Me cover is truly frightening.

  • R.J. Anderson
    December 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    This is really embarrassing, but it is only at this very moment that I have realized the girl on the cover of SHATTER ME is not in fact hiding both her hands inside a giant white fur muff. In all sincerity, I thought she was. I kept wondering, “When did muffs come back in style? Is she skating? Is that snow behind her? Isn’t she cold with bare arms and shoulders?” and then I put it all down to the mysterious ways of cover designers with their hot fashion trends that I have never heard of and stopped thinking about it.

    And now that I know it’s not a muff I’m not sure whether to be relieved or kind of sad that the muff isn’t making a comeback after all. In taffeta or otherwise.

  • Rhiannon Hart
    December 14, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    As the author of one of those fancy-dress-in-incongruous-situation covers, I have to comment! I did have a laugh the first time I saw it. It’s definitely following a trend. I do love the cover though. In its defence, the MC does end up in a big silly dress in a dangerous bit of forest at one point. But yeah. Small part of the story.

    I also have one of those photo–>photomanip–>cover covers. I’m so happy to say the girl didn’t get skinnier during the reincarnations (Fallen looks a bit weird, I have to say) and in the final version she actually has less boob. The designer covered her up a bit. The focus is her NECK and I love that. (I did a post on it here actually http://rhiannon-hart.blogspot.com/2011/11/introducing-ana-blood-song-cover-girl.html)

    I didn’t have a lot of input into the cover, like most authors (though I was asked my opinion many, many times) but I have to say I was pretty sanguine about the whole thing. The insides stayed just the way I wanted them too so the wrapper seemed less important somehow. Mind you if I was stuck with a stinker I might say differently :mrgreen:

  • wendy toliver
    December 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Hilarious post! Loved it.

  • heather
    December 14, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Oh, how I loved this post. Also – I have thought the same about the “Mara” dress. So cute! (and frankly, not very . . . Mara-like?)

  • Gemma
    December 15, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Those are her boobs, not her butt. It took me entirely too long to realize that.

    Stared at the picture for a while, then read the blurb and felt relieved I wasn’t the only one. >_>

    Great post!

  • Carla
    December 15, 2011 at 4:45 am

    I am still in shock that the cover is her boobs and not her bum. i can’t move past it!

  • Sarah Rees Brennan
    December 15, 2011 at 7:31 am

    YA author with YA covers of her own to be pointed at, but I still laughed helplessly. Maybe especially over ‘only harlots painted their nails.’

  • Alexis
    December 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    This is a fabulous post! I used to work in the teen section of a bookstore and I’m a graphic designer, so I have very strong opinions on book covers.

  • Julie@my5monkeys
    December 19, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Thank you for this and was LOL …so not a fan of the face trend. There were some underwater ones too 🙁

  • Tanya Byrne
    January 1, 2012 at 7:42 am

    How did I miss this? Perfect, ladies.

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  • Rebecca Herman
    January 20, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    How did I miss this when it was first posted? I LOVE this post. I also got totally mixed up by the Invincible Summer cover. Whoops. I agree so much about the Shatter Me cover. I read the plain ARC with no cover art before the cover was revealed… and I’m kind of glad I didn’t have distracting poufy dress to imagine while reading it.

    I think I hate the headless covers the most of the trends. I wish they’d just go away and never come back!

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    September 6, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    […] Smugglivus 2011 Guest Bloggers: Forever Young Adult – Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back … 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. […]

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