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The Cover Girl

*Judging Books by their Covers Since Now*

A Great and Terrible Beauty

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Ooh La La. What a cover! Let’s analyze!

As we stroll through B&N one rainy day, we see this striking book, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Pretend we haven’t already read this (cause I have and it’s one of my all-time favorites, but I will not be biased in this post). Like last Wednesday, let’s ask our five questions:

  1. Pick it up or move on? Well…. pick up. But at first glance it’s the kind of book I would pick up carefully, maybe keeping the cover pointing toward the floor. Bodice ripper?
  2. The title factor? (yep, I still haven’t come up with a question for this one. I will sometime. Promise) Unlike last week’s title (WAKE), this is kind of a mouthful. But goodness it flows nicely. And it makes me shivery… It also contradicts the bodice-ripper impression, since it sounds more intellectual than Lucy and the Pirate.
  3. Does the tag line make me blink? Um, well, there’s no tag line, so I don’t immediately know what this book is about, but the other elements of the cover command so much space that I don’t mind that there’s not a tag.
  4. Does this cover tell me something about the story? Yes. Oh yes. I’m thinking romance, definitely an historical romance that must be good because it’s a bestseller, right? But unlike WAKE’s cover, which gave us premise and genre and thrill right away, this cover is more ambiguous.
  5. Do I know the genre? Not really (although I do know that it’s YA, since I’ve read it). So let’s talk about YA as a broad genre for a minute. Should the cover indicate the book’s target age-audience? What would a truly ‘YA’ cover be like? How would it tell its audience that it’s YA? Does it even matter? Young adults aren’t the only readers of YA novels. In more and more ways the genre’s audience is expanding. YA books deal with mature topics like sex and swearing and drugs; sometimes the content isn’t that different from the mainstream adult novel on the shelf next to it.

What do you think? Should a potential reader immediately know, just from looking at the cover, that the book is YA? Or does that not matter anymore?

Libba Bray’s website has more about A Great and Terrible Beauty if you’re interested.

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