And here’s why: did you know some authors often don’t have any say over the covers of their books? Even someone as huge as Maureen Johnson! What started as an idle musing on twitter about her book covers generally, led to her asking her fans to coverflip some of their favourite books. What’s a coverflip you ask? Well, you know how a lot of YA fiction, particularly those by female authors, have “girly” book-covers with curly-cue fonts, lots of pink, or a picture of a stereotypically pretty girl? Imagine if instead that “girly” (or “dudely”) cover was redesigned to target the opposite audience. Change the sex of the author. How does this gendering of a book cover affect your desire to read it?
For example if the cover of A game of thrones looked like this, would you pick it up? What about these other ones?
Personally, we think this a beyond fantastic idea. Although we do spend a lot of our time (especially Rachel) looking at book covers so we may have a slightly vested interest. Anyway, in the spirit of coverflips we give you some brilliant books whose content doesn’t quite match their covers. This is entirely subjective and just our opinion, so feel free to disagree!
This lullaby : a novel, Sarah Dessen
This is far from your traditional love story. The heroine, Remy, has a distinctly cynical view of love. Mainly because at the start of the book she’s watching her mother getting married for the fifth (yes, fifth!) time. Remy’s all about ending a relationship before it gets to the emotional attachment stage. Of course there is a boy, a messy and impulsive musician named Dexter – a stereotype that doesn’t scream commitment. So everyone’s surprised that they’re still together. It’s a complicated romance, especially with Remy’s issues about relationships, which we don’t think is suggested at all by the cover.
Hex Hall, Rachel Hawkins
One goodreads user describes this cover as looking like “a Disney movie” which we have to agree with. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good Disney movie but it doesn’t fit this books supernatural and super sarcastic heroine. Sophie Mercer isn’t a very good witch. In fact it’s a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong in the human world that gets her exiled to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium (witches, faeries, and shapeshifters). There, Sophie learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
Fly on the wall, E. Lockhart
This is a fantastic book centred around an intriguing idea; what if you could be a fly on the wall for a week in the boys’ locker room – just to learn more about guys. What are they really like? What do they really talk about? Are they really cretins most of the time? Imagine how much easier it would be to talk to them if you understood them! We adore E. Lockhart and it was on the strength of that and the concept that we both read this book rather than a captivating cover. The new edition cover goes in another direction completely (check it out here) but we’re not sure the hot pink captures the spirit of Gretchen Yee either.
Cracked up to be, Courtney Summers
Personally, this cover reminds me of Gossip Girl, the early seasons when they wore those plaid school uniform skirts. Which I love for many reasons but it’s very different to Courtney Summers’ writing. Cracked up to be is about perfect high school senior Parker Fadley who has quit the cheerleading squad, broken up with her popular boyfriend, and is in danger of not graduating with her class, but she refuses to tell anyone what has precipitated this sudden change in her attitude and behavior, insisting that she only wants to be left alone. Courtney Summers has a way of pulling you through an emotional roller coaster in her books; they’re powerfully hard hitting which I don’t think you get from the cover. Which makes it that much more surprising. So maybe it’s better, who knows.
The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner
We both loved this book (and the rest of the series) because of its combination of adventure and mystery and an almost recognisable fantasy world and the twist at the end and the hero, Gen. The set up is this: the king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities because the stone is the key to securing his kingdom’s future. And while the stone makes it onto the cover, we feel there is a whole lot more at the heart of this story (the mystery and adventure and the relationship between Gen and the magus for example) that isn’t captured by its cover.
To us, a book’s cover and content are intrinsically linked. Don’t believe us? Look at this six-year-old guessing the content of some classics based on their covers. So here are some covers that we think beautifully capture the content and tone of their books:
We genuinely want to know what you think of cover flipping! Agree with us? Disagree? What makes you pick up a book? We want to know!