Friday, December 24, 2010

Cover Critique: 2011 Top Six Part 1

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.


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.


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?


  1. Wow...Water Wars is really impressive. I haven't heard of this book before. It definitely makes me want to read it.

    BTW...I forget - have you read Always a Witch yet? I have about 100 pgs left and am loving it.

  2. I love all of those covers. Slice of Cherry may be Dexter Freaky!!

    I cant wait to read the Water Wars...great picks

  3. Love all those covers but Slice of Cherry is my favourite. Reading that book now and it is twisted!

  4. love the water wars covers , and totally agree about sisters red cover.My other fave is Matched, a girl in a green bubble.Simple & beautiful.

  5. I never considered the face on the cover of The Water Wars as having androgynous qualities, but now that you pointed it out, I can see it. I'm still seeing mostly a female, but the jaw is strong.

    Illustrated covers are either a hit or miss for me, but I like Sweetly.

    All of these a great. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these, I love reading them.

  6. I like all three! The visual effect of the water in The Water Wars is cool. I never noticed that about the chapped lips before. Your take on the need for moisture is very perceptive. Slice of Cherry is one of my fave covers for 2k11. It's so delightfully creepy. The branches in Sweetly are definitely fun -- showing two different images. I forget what that's called. I agree on the purple.

  7. I like all of these books. In fact I'm reading Slice of Cherry now. Its good. I love your cover critiques!!

  8. The Water Wars takes the cake in my opinion! Not only is the premise for it just incredible, but that cover speaks volumes! The water splashes and blue is so visually appealing...this should be arriving today, and I am SO excited :D

    Great critiques, as usual, Jenny!

  9. Alison - I love that one:) I could just stare at it all day:) Left yo a comment on Always a Witch.

    Tina - That's what I like about it, it's so innocent and creepy at the same time.

    Nic - Lucky girl! I can't wait to read it:)

    Julie - I adored Matched, I did a whole separate critique on that one:) And Wither. Gorgeous!

    Missie - That's so funny, for whatever reason I see a boy (the boy from Eclipse - with the blond hair and red scarf? He was also briefly in Harry Potter 7).

    Julie - Thank you! I always notice things like that, I probably annoy people with my critical analysis sometimes:)

    Savy - Can't wait to see what you think, I'm really looking forward to that one.

    Melissa - Lucky you! I want to read it so bad, what a great Christmas present for you:)

  10. I never thought about the guy on The Water Wars as being an androgynous figure, but now that I look at it more closely, it does make me wonder and intrigues me all the more... This cover is just GORGEOUS!

  11. I saw the cover for SLICE OF CHERRY on another blog and the cover immediately got my attention. I love the thin, delicate china with the blood! So proper and disturbing. I really like the covers that Pearce has been getting, and SWEETLY seems fantastic, and creepy, and omnipotent.

    Great picks!

  12. I love these. I'd have to add The Replacement as one of my faves from this year too. :)

  13. Jessi - I know, I'm in love with it. I can't wait to see it in person!

    Jennifer - Me too! I just love the font and the image and pretty much everything:)

    Melissa - I loved the cover for the Replacement, gorgeous!

  14. Yes! I adore all of these covers, too!

  15. Such great cover picks! The Water Wars is my favourite from the three featured. I remember going through Goodreads and coming upon it and was like "Wow, I gotta read the blurb now!" That itself sounded really interesting and something that could potentially happen in the future so I dumped it onto my list of books to look forward to in 2011. It's going to be a good year!

    Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays, Jenny!

  16. I love the first two covers, but I am actually really disappointed with the cover for Sweetly. I think the branches forming the face actually seem to form a heavy mustache, which seems inappropriate, and I don't see enough design continuity between the first book (Sisters Red, which has a genius cover, I think) and this new offering.

  17. Aylee - Yay! Now I just need to get my hands on these books so I can see them in person:)

    Zahida - I adore The Water Wars one, and 2011 is definitely shaping up to be a fabulous book year!

    Madigan - I adore the Sisters Red cover as well, and while I agree that one is superior, I still really like this one:) And I don't mind the continuity lapse since this book is a totally different story with different characters despite being called "Sisters Red #2" Not sure why they did that really!

  18. Nice critiques! I like all three of these covers, though none are among my favorites.

    I still can't decide whether I think it's a boy or a girl on the Water Wars cover. Sometimes I lean more to girl, others to boy. Guess I'll have to read the book and find out.

    I really like the cover for Slice of Cherry. It's very creepy.

    I'm a big fan of covers that play on positive and negative space. Both Sweetly and Sisters Red are covers I love because of this.

  19. those are truly gorgeous covers!! curious to see part 2 LOL

  20. While I love all three of these, the first one is just fantastic!

  21. I am a cover snob so I love posts like this! I hadn't even heard of Water Wars and the cover is beautiful!

  22. I LOVE the covers! Especially Slice of Cherry went to B&N today and picked up both Slice of Cherry and Water Wars. I hadn't heard of Water Wars until I read this post. It's a fav so I gotta have it! :D