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?


  1. I <3 this cover, but I think my favorite is Steel~~

    Sniffly Kitty
    Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books

  2. I, too, love this cover. I think it's completely gorgeous and compelling. I also love Across the Universe and XVI. I want to read all of these books!

  3. I do like the way the designer used the type. Nice typeface too. Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust
    twitter: @fangswandsfairy

  4. Love the way you have the upcoming releases down the side of this page. Nice and easy to see. Once A Witch I have been trying to locate an Ebook of this as I have the second book Always a Witch on ebook. Lastly, cant wait to read Wither i have been hanging for this book for awhile now:D


  5. I love this cover and can't wait to read it to discover what the ring on her finger means. I love th cover for Across the Universe :)

  6. Great critique! It is a gorgeous cover! =D

  7. Enjoyed reading your critique post :)

  8. I love this cover! I am also really excited to read this book!

  9. Love this cover critique, Jenny! This has to be my favourite upcoming cover...the colours, the script/print...all of it! It's stunning :)

  10. Yes, this cover is gorgeous and enchanting. But, for some reason, when I look at it, I think Steampunk Historical Romance, not really Dystopian.

    Great critique. I'm glad you featured this cover.

  11. I love the colors and the clean lines but it doesn't make me want to read the book for some reason. I have no clue what it's about and the girl looks off putting to me.
    I do think it would make me pick it up to find out more though.
    Excellent critique.

  12. Sniffly - Steel is gorgeous as well! Nice choice:)

    Mrs. DeRaps - Oh, I'm with you on XVI, love that one!

    Steph - I agree!

    Michelle - I'm dying to read Wither too:)

    Nic - Me either, so much good stuff in this book, I can just tell:)

    Slowest - Thank you!

    Savy - Me too, it can't come out soon enough!

    Melissa - Thank you and I couldn't agree more:)

    Missie - I can definitely see some steampunk historical romance in this cover!

    Karen - Thanks!

  13. Hiya!
    Love the way you dissected this one -- and yes, it's nice to see a well-done and well-designed cover! The book looks quite inviting :-)


  14. I really enjoyed reading your analysis of this cover. I agree with what you said about incorporating the text with the picture. I much prefer it when the two work together in some way, and this cover design is probably one of the better ones I've seen.

    While this isn't my favorite cover in that I don't find it overly beautiful (the girl and dress aren't very pretty), it is one of my favorites in that it really draws me into wanting to read the book. I have so many questions just from the cover alone (and you touched on most of them).

    I also like how the title is Wither, and the girl does seem to fit the definition of that word very well. She has a ragged look to her-her dress, her hair, her facial expression, and as a reader, I want to open to the book and find out why.

    I like that someone else mentioned historical/steampunk vibes. I get those from this cover as well. I think it's the combination of all those science-y aspects you pointed out with the less modern style of dress and bird cage.

  15. Darkeva - I think so too, can't wait to get my hands on it!

    Small - I agree, the image fits the title of the book really well. There's something off about it, but I love that something's just not quite right - it adds to the overall effect:)

  16. This cover is awesome. I love it too!

  17. The cover is breathtaking. I am really looking forward to reading this book. The plot summary sounds like an interesting take on dystopian YA. Thanks for sharing your insightful critique.