Thursday, November 25, 2010
Cover Critique: Wither
Let me preface this post by saying that my design critiques of these covers are in no way, shape or form a reflection on the author, the content or the publisher. I know the authors have very little, if any, control over the design. These are strictly my thoughts stemming from my design experience.
It's been a while since I've critiqued a cover that I think is particularly well done, so I figured it was time to take a break from some of the absurdity and focus on something gorgeous. Have no fear though, we'll return to the hilariousness next week! I've been increasingly impressed with the quality of young adult book cover design, and one of my favorite covers thus far for the 2011 releases is Lauren DeStefano's Wither.
Perhaps my favorite part of this cover is the combination of photography, design and layout. So many times on book covers we have a beautiful image or illustration as the focal point with an interesting typeface above, below, or simply across it. While this makes for innumerable lovely possibilities, the overall layout is basically the same. With Wither, we have a stunning image as the primary focus but we also have an interesting use of type. It doesn't merely run horizontally across the cover, but is incorporated as an actual design element, blending with the linear structures to create a progression of words from top to bottom. The young girl's face surrounded by the giant circle is our starting point, and we are then led via horizontal line to the name of the book series. From there, we are guided to the title of this particular installment, and finally we are drawn vertically down the author's name and then on to other items meant to be of note.
In addition to merely enhancing the overall design, the geometric elements are reminiscent of scientific diagrams, making us feel as though with this read we will be provided an interesting study, perhaps one involving human nature if the young lady on the cover is any indication. I particularly love that the "w" in the title is enclosed in a square, a possible reference to the periodic table of elements and yet another beautiful, subtle element enhancing the stunning eeriness of this cover, as well as an allusion to the "chemical garden" portion of the title. Also fascinating is the emphasis on this young girl's left hand and the presence of a ring on a very significant finger. Has she been taken from someone she loves and is now under scientific monitoring? What's special about her that would draw such interest? So many intriguing questions are raised without even having to read the back cover, all as a result of good design.
Lastly, though the cover has a unified look with the use of cooler colors and a soft pink accent, I love the disparity that exists between the two main objects in the photograph. We have the loose and wild hair of our protagonist, teased impressively and flowing carefree about her shoulders, paired nicely with an equally voluminous dress scattered about her legs as though she is unconcerned with the state of her appearance. In stark contrast, we have the pristine presence of a small bird – utterly unruffled and controlled in it's gilded cage. Where one is free the other is contained, though the meaningful placement of the circular elements suggest this young girl is as much a prisoner as her feathered friend, the bars of her prison are just less recognizable and definable.
Overall, I adore this cover. I love the combination of elements and I thoroughly enjoy the story being told. It piques interest but gives nothing away, and would certainly draw my attention on the bookshelf. What do you guys think? Do you have a favorite cover out of the 2011 releases you've seen so far?