“Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Forget that! Today, I want to talk about some of my favourite young adult book covers that I’ve come across.
A cover really does say so much about what’s inside. Cover artists put so much thought and detail into crafting artwork that conveys the crux of a story’s message. And it would truly be a disservice to turn a blind eye to the importance of a book cover, in my opinion!
Before we begin, I want to take note of the credits attributed to each book cover! I’ve tried my best to identify the correct and appropriate artists for each cover, but some may be missing due to limited information online.
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
These Violent Delights features cover art as dramatic as the story itself. Incorporating elements and themes of the plot—with a generous nod to the original source material, Romeo and Juliet—the cover is strikingly beautiful.
Using the pop of gold as a contrast against the black background immediately adds a dramatic effect that simply can’t be ignored. It’s also important to note that the Chinese character on the front represents Juliette’s family name, Cai.
The culture and story are so perfectly illustrated and incorporated in this cover. Honestly, I’d be lying if curb appeal didn’t prompt me to pick this one up in the first place!
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
This tragic tale deserves nothing less than an equally haunting image to pull it all together. And the artists behind the cover of They Both Die at the End delivered.
Using different shades of blue to create an eerie night time scene, this cover perfectly displays the central themes of the story. At first glance, you see Matteo and Rufus walking across the bridge with the New York City skyline in the distance. However, upon closer analysis, you can find the hidden details like the grim reaper in their shadow and the skull in the sky.
I have to include here an honourable mention to the prequel, The First to Die at the End, which was released in October 2022. Again, there’s subtle hints at the skull and Grim Reaper, this time in the structure on the bridge and the shadow on the ground. It’s altogether beautiful, dark and evocative and one of the best covers I’ve ever seen.
A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas
If we’re talking about young adult book covers, we have to talk about the A Court of Thorns and Roses series…. SPECIFICALLY the original covers. Sorry to those who love the new covers, but they simply don’t do it for me.
The original cover art features Feyre in the different stages of her life as presented throughout the trilogy and novella. Feyre is depicted in numerous stunning gowns, showcasing her arm-length tattoo which, as readers know, is integral to the plot. The images are set against striking backgrounds that set the scene for each story while maintaining an otherworldly, mystical vibe.
Many speculate that the covers were designed in 2021 to be more marketable to adult audiences. However, I feel that the new covers don’t do the story justice and remove Feyre from the focus in replace of something more nondescript. The original covers draw you into the story, teasing something about the plot without giving everything away.
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Moving away from more dramatic book covers, Dumplin’ features cover art that is somehow both minimalist and dramatic all at once.
Here we have a faceless drawing of protagonist Willowdean in a show-stopping red dress set against a black background. The only other artistic element on the cover is the crown, which is a simple, pretty outline. It’s fun, it’s cute, and it’s downright sweet.
Most importantly, the cover just screams “star”. And that’s what Willowdean really is; she’s a star not just in the beauty pageant she enters, but in her own life. Willowdean gives off major main character vibes in this story and I love that the cover really echoes that message.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
How on earth could I not talk about The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas? When they said that a picture is worth a thousand words, they must have been talking about this cover.
Starr is featured in the centre of a plain background, holding a sign conveying the book’s title. It’s easy to see that this sign is for protest, a central theme of this novel. From what you can see of her face, you know she means business. There’s a fierce power in her eyes and in her stance. You can also see her sneakers and the bow in her hair, reminding readers of her youth.
I should also mention how much I love that they recreated the book cover for the film poster when they adapted the novel for the screen. It’s too powerful a message to ignore and reimagine, in my opinion.