Oh, and I blame whoever tweeted me the night of December 28 as the enablers of this post. Bad children, bad!
In no particular order...
1. Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
Look, I love Jeri and her writing incredibly much, but I had to be honest with myself and say that I didn't think this cover did her writing justice. The girl wraps around the back cover... so why did they have to put the most awkward-looking part of her on the front?? Simply put, I was relieved when Simon & Schuster redid the cover for Shade's paperback:
Much better. Shoulda done it in the first place.
2. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Oh no you didn't just put a narsty close-up of a girl's face sideways and slap a glowy title font on the front. Anyone could do this on Photoshop. In fact, I know how to make font glowy on Photoshop. My favorite part is probably the font color for Lauren and Jay's names. At least they match the girl's lips and eyes. I really want them to change the image for the paperback, whenever it comes out...but we'll see. A lot of people seem to like this cover. Hrm.
Other similar awkward-full-frontal-uncomfortable-staring covers, yays:
Gah. You know how people being interviewed on shows or documentaries almost never look straight-on into the camera? You know how they always look as if they're talking to someone just to the left or right of the camera? (Well, they probably are.) It's because full-on stares make people uncomfortable. Covers that make me uncomfortable = me staying away.
And just for kicks, here's a cover that made me so uncomfortable that I actually did cover the front while I was reading it so that my inner spineless scaredy-cat wouldn't get nightmares:
And it didn't even need a full-frontal stare with eyes to creep me out. Double gah.
3. The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter
Angerrrr. So much angerrrr. (Or, should I say, angrrrr.) How could they have taken an insightful book and slapped this elementary-school computer graphics lesson's first draft on the front? YES, I'm angry. NO, I'm not lightening my stance. How many readers do you think guffawed at this cover when they saw it in stores (if they even saw it in stores, since if I were a book-buyer for a store I'd probably guffaw at this and pass it up too) and then stayed 10 feet away from it? Goddammit. I hate when good books get sucky covers.
4. The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood
I waited on tenterhooks for this book's cover ever since I read about the deal. For some reason, any title containing the word "poison" in it evokes to me a really awesome cover (e.g. Poison Study, The Poison Throne). I was so disappointed when this cover was finally revealed, only a handful of weeks before the book came out (probably because they couldn't decide on the cover, I assume). I love the artistic intricacy of the title font. As for the rest of it? Forgive me when I stand up on my chair and yell, How could you have taken such a fascinating story premise and done...this to it?? A premise like this screams for the need to put sinister-looking plants on the cover. Instead, we get a yawn-inducing image of a girl bathing in a heat lamp. I suppose that's your plant reference right there. Oh, and maybe she has a plant tucked in her shirt but it's out of focus and thus that doesn't count as putting the plant reference in the cover.
Oh, here's some more awkward "girl looking down demurely" covers that just didn't impress me at all:
Shall we gah some more?
5. I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
People, I weep. This upsets me. If I hadn't read a good review of this book elsewhere I would have totally ignored it...and that would have been a crying shame, since I enjoyed this book so much I went out and bought a finished copy for my collection. Look, I don't have anything against girly things. I like the sky blue background; I like hot pink in limited quantites; I'm learning to like weddings. But put them all together and completely ignore the witty and heartfelt components of this book... and you make me cry. Now, I love my well-written chick lit stories, but you wonder why they're such a hard sell, and why we can never get anyone to take them seriously? See above for Example A.
6. Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
I swear that contemporary YA get the shaft in cover treatments. Maybe people think it's more okay to use generic images for contemporary fiction because, uh, photographs are contemporary? Blergh. Yet another book I initially dismissed but then was glad I didn't. *shakes fists at whoever's responsible*
Not going to elaborate, but here are two more that I think join Not That Kind of Girl's cover in the whole "generic as f***"/"awkward picture of close-up lips almost-kissing in a completely unsexy manner" #phail category:
Dude. Almost-kissing is SEXY. That's why the First Novels Club does their annual No-Kiss Blogfest. Sexual tension is SEXY. There is nothing sexier than a well-done almost-kiss. Unfortunately, these covers do not exude sexiness for me.
7. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Oh ho ho, yet more examples of good contemporary YA being shat on in the cover design department. Luckily for this book we all love it so much we can ignore the lackluster cover treatment. Look, I'd be fine if the paperback looked pretty much the same; just move the boy over so we can actually see his face! I know Etienne is swoony and all that, and that everyone's definition of swoony is different, but what's the point of keeping him hidden except for a very un-Etienne-like (at least in my opinion) shoulder, and then showing us what Anna looks like? Either put both of them on, or keep both faces off. Let's stay classy, people.
8. She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott
This is just um so bizarre. We know that Kieran Scott also writes under her pen name, Kate Brian. It's a fairly well-known "secret." And I can't help but compare the cover treatments that her two different sets of books, written under different names, get. "Kate Brian"'s covers are edgy, scandalous, alluring--albeit in a generic Gossip Girl-esque way. Kieran Scott's look like they were written for 9-year-olds still stuffing themselves into their kindergarten Halloween ballerina costumes even with their pudge hanging out of the leotards, who like to think they know all there is to know about middle and--gasp--high school through their heavily made-up older sisters and wannabe-21 velour-wearing mothers. (Um, did that make sense to you? Maybe it's a Jersey thing, velour couture.) It's no wonder I haven't had so much as a glimpse of She's So Dead to Us in stores this year... which is a shame, too, because it's like Gossip Girl or The A-List without all the brand name-dropping, and would be happily swooped up by readers of those series.
9. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Okay, okay, I don't think this one's nearly as bad as some covers that have been published this year, but it did make me scratch my head for a good two weeks or so after I came across it. What exactly is that bright blue blobby thing? A backlit leaf or flower of sorts? A ghost! A...handmade Halloween costume gone wrong. Once you read the book you get a better idea of what I think the cover was trying to represent, but every time I look at it I still think, "Poor person stuck in that monstrosity of a handmade Halloween costume!" (Why do I think that, anyway? Does that look like a Halloween costume to you, or am I just going crazy?)
You know, I think these #phail occurrences would decrease in number if it were mandatory for the art directors and cover designers to read the book before they create the cover. You can consider it part of the job or something, get paid for the reading time.
Okay, I feel bad for ragging on designers of contemporary YA book covers. I don't wish voodoo on you, I swear! I still acknowledge your rightful existence as a human being and your creative freedom! Anyway, to end on a higher note, here are some covers for contemporary YA that I DO like:
See? I am appreciative of art.
[Disclaimer: Please please please do not take this post the wrong way. I am not making personal attacks on any individuals or groups. I am simply expressing my opinion as a subjective consumer of YA books and a totally amateur observer of art.]
Okay, I'd love for you to chime in at this point! What were some of your WTF Covers of 2010? Let's just take this day and indulge in a little end-of-year ranting... or something like that.