Since we're rapidly approaching 2011, I thought I'd spend this week and next week's cover critiques highlighting some of my favorite covers I've seen for books coming out next year. 2010 has had some amazing covers and I'm thrilled to see the trend of beautiful design is continuing into 2011, so below you will find the first three of my favorite covers that have been released so far.
1. THE WATER WARS
I adore this cover. There are a plethora of young adult covers out there that focus on either a partial or full human face, and after a while all the features start to blur together until no single cover stands out for me. This face however, has a very unique addition as the eyelashes are replaced by water splashes to create a truly stunning visual effect. The cool grays evoke a sense of foreboding that compliments a title with the word "war" in it, and I love the contrast between the very dry, chapped lips and the saturated wetness of the eyelashes – almost as though the war is being visually emphasized since one part of the face is obviously in need of moisture, and the other part has an abundant supply of what is needed most.
Furthermore, I enjoy the androgynous quality to the face, it adds an anonymity to the character, as though this person is just another nameless face in the battle; one who fights but whose individual efforts won't necessarily be celebrated or even acknowledged. The dimpled chin and strong jaw suggest a male, but the full lips and wisps of blond hair floating down behind the title suggest female, making this cover all the more interesting to look at as we try to decipher everything we're seeing.
2. SLICE OF CHERRY
For me, the simplicity of this cover is what makes it so visually powerful. At first, we see cutely patterned teacups stacked together and think how adorable they are and how maybe we'd like to own them ourselves. Then we notice the font for the title doesn't quite fit with the adorable vibe of the striped and polka-dotted teacups and we are further put on edge by the presence of a puddle of blood and the drips running down the sides of formerly pristine china.
There are just so many questions raised by such a seemingly uncomplicated design. Whose blood is it? The whole tea party element suggests a child is either the owner of the blood or the one responsible for its presence, either option being equally disturbing, and leaves us all the more grimly fascinated by the unknown.
I'm a huge fan of illustrated covers, and the first cover in this series, Sisters Red, was one of my favorite covers of 2010. Though the purple would not have been my ideal choice, the illustrator's use of both positive and negative space is just gorgeous. In the positive space, we see the stark black branches stretching eerily across the dusky purple of an early night's sky, but then upon further inspection, a face starts to form in the negative space. The crooked branches form the eyes and mouth, while three falling leaves form nostrils, together giving the overall illusion of distinctly female features staring out at us. The crooked nature of the trees and their barrenness have a sinister quality, as though whatever presence is watching over this quaint cottage is not someone we want to meet in a dark forest. Love it!
What do you guys think? Do you have any favorites so far for 2011?