Defining Fishers

Still looking at ’90s covers (more specifically, 1997 covers), I came across this title by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I read this pre-Among the Hidden title, Leaving Fishers, when it was first released. I have no vivid memory of the book, however the original cover (left) fits with my emotional memory of the story of a young woman feeling alienated, swept up by people who seem sympathetic (a cult).
The first cover makes sense, and draws me in. The girl on the cover looks unhappy. You can tell she is feeling like an outsider. The only iffy thing here is audience. This cover seems pitched a little young.
The 1999 paperback cover (middle) … what does it say?

You can tell we’re moving into the photography era here, even though this cover was in the earlier days of all-photography all-the-time. Do you get a sense of the alienation here? Yeah right. She looks like she’s part of the brat pack. The cover is disingenuous and would, I think, draw in kids just to trick them about the content of the book.
The newer cover (2004) is certainly of our era. It says nothing. A girl with her eyes covered… she’s blind? (okay, figuratively – a little). Is there really a clue at all about the book’s content? Should there be?
The thing about illustration is that emotions can be brought into the final work so much more effectively. I think that’s a very difficult thing to do with patching stock photographs together – difficult, but no, not undoable…

Leaving Fishers (Simon & Schuster 1997): After joining her new friends in the religious group called Fishers of Men, Dorry finds herself immersed in a cult from which she must struggle to extricate herself.  Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3.

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8 Responses to “Defining Fishers”

  1. …and since it’s such a good book, these covers are equally disappointing. I think I must have read that book with the last cover — it made zero impact on me, and I picked it up because of the author.

  2. Thank the buyers at B&N and Borders.

  3. First of all, yay, Margaret Peterson Haddix! I read Leaving Fishers as the second cover and had no idea that wasn’t the original. The original is much better but also looks a bit young. Then again, I don’t remember how old the main character was. I think they have been redoing all of Haddix’s covers to make them say less. It’s sad, because she’s awesome.

  4. The first cover is drastically better than the later two, I agree.
    The middle one looks like a soap opera?

  5. I have to say that aside from aesthetic considerations, I think that both the middle cover and the first cover work. The first cover only seems young in the sense that it lacks the glam factor that so many current covers seem to have. The second says one against the group and has an appropriately ominous atmosphere. I don’t know how much more information about the story could be effectively revealed by the cover. Indications of the religious content might be off-putting to potential readers. The third cover is just awful, conveying zip information about the story and juxtaposing ecclesiastical purple with that jaundiced complexion. It’s clear that the big red Haddix is supposed to sell the book.

  6. walkinginpublic Says:

    I’m amazed that the covers keep getting worse and worse – the first one actually feels the most modern by far! The other two – blech.

    It’s surprising, though, that there are major issues with Haddix’s newer covers. Her books have such interesting emotional material to work with, the visuals could be much better. Leaving Fishers, in particular, completely rattled and unnerved me in regard to cults and peer pressure when I first read it as a teen, and I don’t see any sense of that tension here.

    Interesting and insightful post!

  7. I find the second and third covers absolutely unappealing. The second looks like a cast photo for a television show I wouldn’t watch. The third could be slapped on almost any book with a young female protagonist–to the detriment of the book.

    The foreground figure on the first cover *may* make it skew younger, but the background is very intriguing. There is narrative content here–emotional content.

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