Best Book Covers of 2009 – Final Four, Finally!

I’ve been dragging my feet on this last four “Best Ten” covers. The first six were easy. After that I had another 20 in a document on my desktop. I looked at them nearly every day, and could not settle on four.
Several years ago, I wrote an article for VOYA about summer reading. The article stemmed from watching kids in the library, as they tried to decide on a book from their summer reading list – usually about a week before school started. Kids who might otherwise read, hadn’t read anything yet, because they didn’t want to read what they were supposed to read for school. I could feel their resistance to reading, based on the fact that they were being told they had to.
This last post felt very much like that for me. The “had to” was self-imposed. And I resisted posting anything else here until I put up this last set. I almost ended up throwing in the towel and giving up the blog, because it worked it’s way into a such a sense of dread (and I’m doing this for fun!). Today I’m pulling myself up by the bootstraps and rather than give up blogging… I’m biting the bullet. I’ve made my final four selections for 2009, but without the same conviction I had with the first six. In the end, it’s staying power that brings these to the top.

For Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey (Atheneum), it was just an image that stuck. An unusual mix of photography and illustration (I think). The jumble of tree branches, the very red hair, the designs on the straps that bind – all mix well. The color is wonderful.

I think the best thing about Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor (Scholastic) is the colors chosen. The mostly black and white image, and the beautiful shade of a very light blue for the eyes and title make for a very cool image. That cool image, set against a nice shade of red, makes this cover memorable.

Again – the hot and cold colors. It’s such a pleasing mix. I love the geometrical title treatment on Monster’s Proof by Richard Lewis (Simon & Schuster). And the monster behind the fabric sheet? Scary.

Here’s an idea I haven’t seen much of. Using a photo negative image creates an ominous feeling. The use of hot pink/purplish lettering with lots of flourish works well mixed in with the tangle of tree limbs. That busy-ness, juxtaposed with the black hole underneath – what lies beyond, in that dark space?
Beautiful Creatures is by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown).

I’ve seen an overall leaning in my preferences over the years. I lean toward covers without a lot on them. I like complementary colors. I like limited color (tell me you don’t see a lot of monochromatic covers here…). I like limited text on a book cover. And I like the fonts to be thoughtfully chosen and arranged.
What I always wonder, though, is how they land on the eyes of the readers they’re aimed at. Years ago I attended a session of the YALSA BBYA committee – one to which teens were invited. Their assessments and opinions were stunning and clearly articulated  – what they thought about the books AND their covers. They were quite critical of the covers – even some that I thought were good. That session has stayed with me and woven its way through the way I see YA lit.
So in the end, the most important critics are the young people who read these books. Take my opinion with a grain – or a bucket – of salt.

Sacred Scars: In alternate chapters, Sadima works to free captive boys forced to copy documents in the caverns of Limòri, and Hahp makes a pact with the remaining students of a wizards’ academy in hopes that all will survive their training, as both learn valuable lessons about loyalty. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Lips Touch: Three short stories about kissing, featuring elements of the supernatural.Ages 13+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Book trailer.
Monster’s Proof: As the only normal person in a family of math geniuses, sixteen-year-old Livey’s life takes a turn for the extraordinary when her little brother’s imaginary friend, Bob, turns out to be real and, as a creature of pure math, tries to rid the world of chaos and disorder.Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2.
Beautiful Creatures: In a small South Carolina town, where it seems little has changed since the Civil War, sixteen-year-old Ethan is powerfully drawn to Lena, a new classmate with whom he shares a psychic connection and whose family hides a dark secret that may be revealed on her sixteenth birthday.Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Book trailer.

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6 Responses to “Best Book Covers of 2009 – Final Four, Finally!”

  1. Wow. I really like all of these covers that you finally settled on. I have the arc for Beautiful Creatures at home and even with that, I agree that the purple lettering and negative image are haunting. Every time I pass Lips Touch on the shelf, I stop to consider it again. Great Cover! I hadn’t heard of these other two books, but now I’m definitely intrigued. Good choices.

  2. A nominee for 2010: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain. Love, love, love the black background and purple skirt. I know you miss the illustrated covers but there’s some fantastic photography going on right now. =]

  3. Are there official awards for book covers? Have you suggested that the Cybils include a cover category?

    I would swear that I am NOT a visual person, that ‘pictures’ do nothing for me but I know that I can purchase a book based completely and entirely on the cover art! It really is an essential part of the book.

  4. I am in LOVE with Beautiful Creature – these authors are some of the best, and I think the cover really reflects the unique story inside = )

  5. i am reading sacred scars and wow it is a great book i cantput it down for nothing.

  6. mosters proof the greatest book ever but im reading the book theif that might just nock u down but still monsters proof number one book so far

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