April 10, 2012

I is for...Ill-Suited and Ill-Judged Covers

I'm going to attempt to morph today's Top Ten Tuesday topic (over at The Broke and the Bookish) with my 'I' post for the A to Z Challenge. Should be...interesting.

Today's prompt is: Top Ten Books That Were Deceiving To keep this on-par with my 'I'-themed post, I give you:

TOP TEN ILL-SUITED or ILL-JUDGED COVERS

By ILL-SUITED I mean book covers saying one thing, but you end up getting something else, or it just doesn't have anything to do with what's in the story. Like the book version of false-advertising, where a cover seems as though it was mistakenly slapped on the wrong book.

Now this doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy these books, because in most cases (put a whole lot less tactfully→ all with the exception of one) I really liked them despite their slightly misleading covers.


1.  Past Perfect by Leila Sales
There is nothing about this book cover that matches the pages underneath. Nothing. Well, unless you count the teen girl on the front. But that's where the similarities end. This book is about a girl who works at a Colonial Reenactment Village. Say what? No grass green pleather jackets there.

2.  The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Let me preface this by saying that I love this cover (and all of the other photos in the series Abyss of the Disheartened by Heather Landis found HERE), but it really has nothing to do with the story at all. It's just a really pretty cover, and that's where it ends. I should also probably mention that I feel like this story kind of morphed from one genre into another. More than a little surprising to me.

3.  The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Pretty well everything about his cover screams Historical Fiction, don't you think? From the creepy black & white dude in the top hat and puffy shirt to the sleeping girl in the lacy vintage dress... If you were to guess that you'd be wrong. There are historical elements in the story, but the bulk isn't.


4.  New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
I suppose the type of tulip does look a bit like it's dipped in blood, and that petal dropping kind of looks like a drop of blood. Which works with the whole vampire stuff if you completely ignore the fact that the vamps in question are largely absent from this book. Either way, even the author has no idea what the supposed connection is between the tulip on the cover and the contents of her book.

5.  Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik
Someone please tell me what the significance of this title and this cover is to this modern retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Because I'd really like to know. On p. 4 of the book, the MC says the words "epic fail" in passing, but it has no bearing on the rest of the story at all. It would be like entitling your book "The" because the word is in your book at least once. The cover doesn't go either.


6.  The Diamond of Drury Lane (and the entire Cat Royal series) by Julia Golding
I picked up this book about six years ago when it had the cover on the right. You can't tell from this pic, but the title is in a shimmery red font. It's also a little chubby hardback with no jacket, which I loved. I enjoyed this MG book enough to buy the next four in the series, and all of them at that time had these really fun covers. Fastforward a few years and the publishers decided to slap the cover on the left on them. Much less fun, and much less fitting. The thing that doesn't work is that they used the same cover model for all six books, despite the fact that Cat ages to her mid-teens by Book 6. So now I have five with the original covers and my copy of Book 6 is a bigger, softback with no spirit.

By ILL-JUDGED I mean that the fault is all mine. Mea culpa. I initially saw the cover, and I was either underwhelmed or I just misunderstood what the book was about (didn't read the flap closely).


7.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
I know, I know. I'm a tool. I picked this book up time and time again, and read the book flap just as many times, and still didn't get sucked in. It wasn't until my sister read it and told me that I needed to read it as well that I finally bought it. Something about the cover just wasn't grabbing me. Now that I've read HG several times, I think that the cover couldn't be more fitting. Love the mockingjay.

8.  Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
This book is a cover and title two-for-one. Nothing about the cover (at the time) pulled me in, and the title was a little off-putting, I have to confess. It's a double entendre obviously, but still. Talk about wrongly judging a book by its cover. This wonderful book is one of my all-time favourites.

9.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Everything about this cover prevented me from picking it up and actually reading it. It screamed 'way too young for you!' to me (despite the fact that I now read mostly YA), and I wasn't crazy about the cover art. Yet again, my sister told me it was a must-read, and the rest, as they say, is history. Could I be more of an idiot? ←make sure you read that part in Chandler Bing's voice, OK?

10.  Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
There is nothing appealing about this cover. Zero. Zilch. Nada. It's ugly and out-dated and almost too sci fi for potential readers. There have since been new covers slapped on this book, but this is a prime example of the maxim "Don't judge a book by its cover". Oh, it's sci fi all right, but totally awesome and completely accessible. And all of the characters' names aren't weird or begin with 'Z'.

With all of the discussion around YA book covers--in particular, too many pics of teen girls (mostly white) in flouncy ball gowns--on one thing I think we can all agree → The aforementioned maxim still holds true: Don't judge a book by its cover. If you do, you'll likely fall into either trap: a) not loving the book because it wasn't what you were expecting, or b) putting off reading it because the cover didn't appeal to you and then missing out on a truly fantastic read. Both scenarios suck pants.

Can you think of book covers that were either ILL-SUITED choices or ILL-JUDGED by you?

46 comments:

  1. I'm loving all your post topics!

    The Mara Dyer was a disappointment story-wise; great cover, not so good book. Agree on Name of the Star - not a bad cover but doesn't fit the story! At least the girl should look more modern. I've had Past Perfect on my list for awhile; I like the cover but you're probably right on it not having much to do with the story.

    As for Ender's Game, that's really a product of old school Sci-fi paperback styling. Tons of covers look like that, but it really does the book no justice. My husband owns just about every book Orson Scott Card has written, we have a shelf completley stuffed with his work, and i have to say, MOST of the covers are bad. The Alvin Maker series in particular is a serious contributor to Cover Shame Hall of Fame.

    This may be the worst offender ever: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7962.Heartfire It's actually worse in person... but the series is awesome!

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    1. Thanks :)

      I liked, but did not love MARA DYER. I really wanted to love it, especially with that awesome cover, but it wasn't what I was expecting. I really felt betrayed by the sudden flip to paranormal toward the end of the book. I was not expecting that at all (unless I'm totally thick and missed the signs). I think I thought it was going to be some kind of thriller or something, but not paranormal.

      I laughed pretty hard at that Heartfire cover. So terrible! And you're absolutely right about the old school sci fi styling. Awful.

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  2. I know what you mean. I put off reading SWEETHEARTS for a long time because that pink, heart-shaped cookie seemed too chick lit for me. But it has absolutely nothing to do with the story, and it also doesn't match the mood of this really awesome book.

    The same goes for CHIME. I probably wouldn't have picked it up without hearing reviews. It's not a bad cover, but it just looked like any other paranormal romance. Wrong. The writing was beautiful and the story wasn't just a paranormal romance. It's one of my favorite books of 2011, so I'm glad I didn't judge the book by its cover.

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    1. This is where book recommendations and sites like Goodreads are very useful. Covers can be misleading, but if people love the book, sometimes that's a great indication that the book is good despite it's cover.

      It's interesting that you mention CHIME, because it's an example of one that I haven't picked up because the cover just didn't interest me. I know you should always read the back or the flap, but with so many books out there to read, sometimes it's the cover that first pulls you in.

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  3. I love this list. I agree with almost everything, and the things I don't "agree" with are books I haven't read. Ender's Game for sure has a horrible cover, but is a great book. I found some of the newer covers for my own collection, but the first time I read it, it was the cover you have posted. I'm glad I was less picky about covers then than I am now.
    My Top Ten: http://simplybks.blogspot.com/2012/04/top-ten-tuesday_10.html#comment-form

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    1. The best thing to do is go by book flaps, recommendations from friends, and to make good use of sites like Goodreads. That should save us all from making bad decisions based on covers :D

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  4. What an interesting (I -- ha!) post, Jaime, and I agree with so much of what you said. Your thoughts on MARA, THE HUNGER GAMES, ANNA, and HARRY's covers particularly hit home for me. Well thought-out, and well said!

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    1. Thanks, Katy :) I should know better by now than to completely trust my first impressions with book covers. You'd think I'd learn. I think I'll just go off of recommendations from here on in :D

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    2. It seems the only way I can leave a comment is to reply to an existing comment!! Never a fan of Harry Potter - not because of the cover though, rather picked it up and read the first paragraph and didn't like the writer's voice - which has been loved the world over by trillions of people....ill-judged by myself? One of these days I'll try again because I love magic - but why oh why couldn't it be Harriet Potter?

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  5. This was a fun post - and oh, so true! I'd never really thought about it before, and now I'll never look at a book cover the same way again.

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    1. Thanks :) I know we'll always be influenced by covers, but it would be nice to find the good books without being swayed, you know?

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  6. This was a fun read! Nice tie in with the "I." I love your blog posts!

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    1. Thanks, Liz :) It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately (actually, since reading Past Perfect) and felt like today was a good opportunity.

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  7. Loved your take on this week's theme!

    I'm totally with you on the New Moon cover. The cover for Twilight made sense symbolically. NM's flower is pretty and in keeping with the red/white/black theme, but that's it as far as I can tell.

    You and Stephsco are both so right about the Orson Scott Card covers. One of my favorite authors, though--I can't get enough of the books!

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    1. Thanks, Jenna :)

      I thought it was pretty funny that even Stephenie Meyer couldn't understand what they were going for with the tulip cover on NEW MOON. She explains the significance of the apple and the chess piece (not sure about the ribbon), but the tulip? Who knows.

      I'm glad that I was able to see past the ENDER'S GAME cover to read it and enjoy it. I love that book, and I can't imagine missing out because of it's fugly cover :)

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  8. I don't pay attention to covers. When I pull a book from the bookshelf at library or store, I turn it directly to the back and read the summary for what it's about. Book covers are so often wrong. I especially hate when an author describes a character as looking a certain way, but the cover has a person that looks opposite in every way.

    Great ~I~ post!

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    1. That's awesome that you're able to ignore the cover long enough to get to the summary. I find that with all of the books out there to read, and not enough time to read them, it's easy to get roped in by pretty or intriguing covers. I need to just stick to book recommendations and Goodreads from now on :)

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  9. What an awesome post idea for "I"! I love this. I, too misjudge books by their covers sometimes. I read The Hunger Games b/c I kept hearing about it a couple years back. If I didn't hear about it, though, I probably would've ignored it based on the over alone. I love this post :D

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    1. Thanks, Marquita :)

      It's one of those things that I'm totally guilty of, but wish I wasn't. Certain book covers just jump out at me more than others. I'm really glad I listened to my sister's recommendation of THE HUNGER GAMES and ENDER'S GAME, though. This is why Goodreads is such a great site. I like to hear what people have to say about a book apart from its cover.

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  10. Anna is on my list too :)
    By the way, I adore your blog design, especially the header.

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    1. ANNA's just awesome :)

      Thanks for the blog compliment! I was trying to simplify it a little bit, and the black and white seemed like a good way to do that. Plus, I liked the 'ink' feel to it (fitting for a reading and writing blog).

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  11. What a great post idea. :) I agree, I refused to read The Hunger Games countless times because of the cover. It looked like a guy book full of nothing more than war and fighting. Boring. But then everybody couldn't stop talking about it. Still, I didn't want to read it. Of course when I heard they were making a movie based on the book, I had to read the book.

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    1. I'm not sure what it was about it that didn't grab me. I think it was probably the stark black cover coupled with the description of the reality-TV kind of fight to the death theme. It just wasn't grabbing me. So, so glad I caved and finally read them, though :)

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  12. I saw Past Perfect on a couple lists today. It sounds more interesting than the cover. As for Anna and the French Kiss, Yes! I think many of us readers would have preferred something more mature, something that showed the depth of the story. I guess in the case the picture just didn't live up to the 'thousand words' adage.

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    1. Yes, you're right about that. I suppose it felt really 'romance-y' to me, but not really in a good way. There is so much depth, humor, and just warm fuzzy in this book that the cover doesn't reflect. Glad I took a chance on it, though :)

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  13. I have yet to read THE NAME OF THE STAR, but I thought it had something to do with Jack the Ripper? That at least would explain (somewhat) the cover. As for the Harry Potter covers, I'm sorry UK/Canada, but I prefer the US artwork. Still probably looks a bit "young" for Harry's wide audience, but I think the art style is more appropriate for the books. And the UK artwork for book 7 makes the trio look like they're in their mid-twenties, not in their late teens!

    A great way to mix the Top Ten Tuesday and A-to-Z, Jaime. :)

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    1. THE NAME OF THE STAR is about Jack the Ripper, but it's set in modern times. I suppose it's appropriate to have a historical-ish cover, but in this case it seems a little misleading. Either way, I felt like the book was only okay.

      I'm not sure how I feel about the UK/Canada HARRY POTTER cover vs. the American one. One thing I do have a strong opinion about is the decision to change the word "Philosopher" to "Sorcerer" in the title of the American book. Why? I read that American publishers felt that "Philosopher" in the title wouldn't interest kids, but I think that's just hokum, codswallop, and bunk. It had zero problem selling in Canada or the UK with "Philosopher". And if kids don't know what the word means, they can just look it up. End rant. Too funny that you think they look mid-twenties on THE DEATHLY HALLOWS :)

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    2. I'm partial to the American HP covers as well, partly because they convey the tonal shifts in the series so well, with the bright, mostly red designs for the first three books, then shifting into blues, greens, and purples for the later, darker books. Even though we were in Canada when HP7 came out (and immediately bought two copies so Mr. S and I could read it the same day), I gave away one of our Canadian copies and bought an American one as soon as we got home. It wouldbhave driven me nuts otherwise.

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  14. Great post! My pet peeve is the type of cover in which the girl depicted is obviously very different from the one described in the writing--red hair instead of brown, etc. I know the cover is more of a marketing tool than an illustration, but still!

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    1. Oh, I know! Doesn't that just drive you mad? It makes me ask myself whether or not the artist actually read the book or not :)

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  15. I agree with you on New Moon. If I designed the cover I would have put one of those moon shots where the crescent shines the brightest but you can still see the faint outline of the full circle of the moon and then put a bit of red in the sky making the moon look a little bit bloody. But then what do I know? I liked how you organized your list today. kaye—the road goes ever ever on

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    1. That's actually a really great cover idea, and a lot more fitting too:D I wonder sometimes what goes through their minds when they're coming up with cover ideas.

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  16. I have Anna and the French Kiss on my list too, and for the same reasons. Even though your not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, it's hard not to. :)

    I like the cover of Past Perfect. A lot of cute covers have nothing to do with the story. haha Haven't read it yet but that's cool that it's set in a reenactment village!

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    1. The cover of PAST PERFECT is definitely cute, but it would have gone far better on a different book. I think it would have been fun to show the MC in her Colonial getup, but have her in Chucks or something that lets you know that this is set in modern day USA. Just a thought... :)

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  17. How fun is this? Great post. I can't think of any on my own right now, but I certainly enjoyed the covers you presented! I'm laughing at the New Moon one... :D

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    1. That PAST PERFECT one has been driving me bonkers since I read it, so this was the perfect opportunity to mention it. Now you'll be watching for mismatched covers lol :)

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  18. I love Ender's Game cover but thats because I love all the old sci-fi book covers XD See Dune, my 2nd sci-fi love. And of course Animorphs (Tobias <3) but that was 90s and had very...interesting covers lol.

    I actually liked Anna and the French Kiss's FIRST/original title than the one it has now. Now it seems so chick-litty and the cover was meh to me. The original title was ANNA AND THE BOY MASTERPIECE. Now...that has me curious lol! I love the book though.

    And dude I also own the British/Canadian HP 1 cover :) I was in Canada when I bought it - I remember the day so vividly. My mom bought it for me because she had heard good things and I read it in 2 hours and turned to my mom and said "Mom, this book is going to be huge. This lady is going to be big." My mom said "Yeah okay..." LOL. NOW SEE WHERE JK ROWLING IS, MOM?! :-P *psychic!*

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    1. I suppose I probably should have said that the ENDER'S GAME cover was unappealing to non-sci-fi fans. If you were a hesitant sci-fi reader, then that cover might really put you off.

      That original title for ANNA is kind of cool, actually. I wonder what her reasoning was behind that choice. Certainly needs a lot less explanation. Every time I recommended ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, I felt like I needed to explain the play on words.

      That's hilarious about the HP book and your prediction :D

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  19. I'm totally with you on THG and HP. I'm trying to remember now when I first picked up Harry Potter, but I distinctly recall walking past the books display in the grocery store and thinking (snarkily): "Why are those little kid books so popular?"

    My next thought was: "Wait why are those little kid books so long?"

    Then my friend who was with me said (thank goodness): "Oh you have to try them out, they're so good!" And eventually I did and the rest is history ...

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    1. I think the most I knew about HP at the time was that there was a lot of hoopla around the notion of 'witchcraft' and how bad and evil that all was. I suppose that maybe piqued my interest a little too. But it mostly just seemed like it was probably too juvenile for my already adult tastes (*snort*).

      Thank goodness for friends and/or family who give us the nudge to check these kinds of books out, right? :)

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  20. Jaime, this is an excellent post!
    I totally agree with you on The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - I picked it primarily because of the beautiful cover. And I actually really enjoyed the first half of this book. But suddenly it turned into a completely different story - and one that I wasn't too excited about. Whether intentional or not, it really was two stories: one good, one not so much + a beautiful cover that has nothing to do with "either" story at all = weird.
    The Hunger Games, Anna and the French Kiss, and Harry Potter - also three I thought were lack-luster covers, but each one of those titles is on my all time favorite reads list. And of course, now I love the covers, because it signifies the amazing story held within.
    But what sealed this post for me out of all of the above? Your reference to Cha-nan-dler Bong...so glad to have found someone else out there that still quotes Friends (another all-time fav for me!)!!!
    Great post!

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt that way about MARA DYER. I was actually a little ticked off because I felt like it wasn't what it was touted as. At the time I was good and sick of paranormal (Laini Taylor cured me of that with DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE), so I felt betrayed and annoyed when MARA turned into a paranormal romance all of a sudden. What? I thought I was reading a mystery/thriller. I'll probably read Book 2 now that I know what to expect, and because I am a little curious to see what happens next. It still annoys me, though.

      We're not the only ones who thought the covers of THG, ANNA, and HP were kind of 'meh'. Here I thought I was the only one :) Seems like a fairly common reaction, and now all of us love these books to death.

      Too funny that you wrote 'Cha-nan-dler Bong' because that's what I almost typed in. We still joke about that. And there is always a FRIENDS reference for every situation :)

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  21. Anna & the French Kiss and The Hunger Games were both included in my list too! Also, the cover of Past Perfect is really cute, but yes, I've heard before that it doesn't represent the book well.

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    1. Haha! ANNA and THG keep coming up on a lot of people's lists or in their comments. Glad I'm not the only one. Now I just shake my head at how hesitant I once was. So, so silly :)

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  22. This is a fabulous post, Jaime! I love your choices. I (wrongly) felt the same about the title Anna and the French Kiss. But when I finally read it, I fell in love.

    On the other end of this point, I recently picked up Ruta Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray in paperback. It's BEAUTIFUL (the cover, I mean). I had shied away from reading this one, possibly because the hardback cover didn't do much for me. The paperback is very contemporary considering it's a historical book, but it made me want to read it. And I'm so glad I did! Such a great story. I think the cover gives it a fresh feel from the start.

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  23. Hello from an A-Z-er, fellow SCBWI-er and reader/writer of YA fiction, plus I'm a long-time children's librarian. I love the genre! (I also love inspirational romance.) What I've noticed about covers is that often, the hardcover cover image is nowhere near as beautiful and interesting as the paperback cover image. It seems a shame sometimes.

    Hadn't realized Maureen Johnson's book wasn't a historical. You're right. From the cover, you sure would think it was ... it seemed like such a departure for her.

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