Thesis Thursday: Babbling about YA Book Cover Trends

Thesis Thursdays is a weekly(ish) feature where I rant, love and talk about young adult books I’m reading because I’m conning my college into thinking this is all for academia! Find out more here!

After getting out of my thesis meeting today, it turns out that I have too many thoughts about YA book covers. I want to say too much about them, in too many angles, in too many ways. I could write a million papers about YA book covers.

So, while that is not productive to me, I’m going to talk about a few things that came up for me and see if you guys think I’m crazy or if you’ve noticed this too. I’m going to make a serious effort to stay quick and to the point–and not get my professorial lecturing on–so many of these ideas will stay surface level. Tell me what you find interesting!

  1. Book cover trends in general – like, literally, what is going on with this? Books that 51ocax0kjxl-_sx326_bo1204203200_are all different genres–dystopian, fantasy, paranormal, realistic–they all look the same. Each one of them was just as likely to have a “girl in dress” or “half girl face” cover as the next. That doesn’t help you figure out what the book is supposed to be about? Sure, those were some pretty dresses, but do we care? I’d rather see actual content related covers, if you don’t mind. Of particular concern to me:
    1. Book covers that partition the female body – Why do we need book covers that focus just on female torsos? Why not give them heads or full bodies? Fragmentation of the female body has been long studied in advertising as a way to help objectify it. Which is doubly weird, since most YA books are marketed towards female readers.
    2. the selectionGirls in dresses – Okay, on some overs this is fine. Like, for instance, Kiera Cass’s Selection series. That makes sense. But on books where we’re supposed to get a strong female character, why are they shown in inactive poses in dresses that will not be very helpful in a fight? Or, at the very least, they never wear in the actual book?
  2. Book cover changes mid-series publication – Am I
    insane, or did this never used to happen? I never used to have to flip out because I bought one book in hardcover,

    Throne of Glass

    The original ToG cover.

    but by the time the next book came out, the covers had completely changed. Now, oftentimes this change IS for the better (I’m looking at you, Throne of Glass), but … it’s annoying if you want your covers to all look the same. But seriously, help me out here. This is a rather new phenomenon, isn’t it?

  3. Book series repackaging through the years – This is more of a pet peeve with a related example. I will never forget standing in a Barnes and Noble with Tamora Pierce as she lamented about the new “Twilight covers” of her Alanna series where it looked like her characters were wearing clothes “from the Gap.” I understand that the Alanna series is older now, but packaging it to look like Twilight doesn’t seem to be the best marketing strategy. It’s a very different book series. Have you seen other books that have be repackaged in weird ways?Song of the Lioness
  4. The Immortal RulesBook cover white washing – this is very much a last but certainly not least moment. I know that this is a long and storied tradition of publishing, but it really hit home with me when Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden series came out. Why would you use the half face of a white girl on the cover of a book about an Asian-American character? Okay, I know the annoying answer to that question, but seriously. Then, after the uproar, the books got new covers–but not of an actual Asian-American half faced girl. No, the books went the route of the symbol covers instead. Yes, that’s a new fad, but I’m also going to add an eyebrow raise to that movement. What are some other whitewashed covers that have annoyed you guys?

I think I want to say something along the lines of how YA book covers have become really 9780547959214_hresfrustrating, because they–like the inside flaps of the books they contain–are starting to all look the same. Don’t get me wrong, there is some FABULOUS cover art out there, but there are also books that just seem so … samesie. I’m really not a fan of the new symbol art thing. It seems like too many books are trying to be The Hunger Games. At the very least, it seems the symbols are leading back around to more artsy designs than the half-girl faces used to give us.

26114463Can you see how my ideas are flip flopping all over the place? I understand that books can’t all be fabulous pieces of art like the Throne of Glass redo covers or literally anything written by Jay Kristoff, but …sigh. There is SO MUCH IMPORTANT INFORMATION tucked into these covers. I want to talk about it all with my scholar cap on, but I can’t cover all this stuff with the breadth it deserves in the same paper.

Sigh. I need to decide soon. Fingers crossed.

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ARC Review: “The Forever Song” by Julie Kagawa

The Forever SongThe Forever Song (The Blood of Eden #3) by Julie Kagawa

Goodreads | Amazon

Vengeance will be hers.

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.

Monster.

Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions – her creator Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost – the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie. 

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, her triumph will be short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

THE FINAL HUNT IS ON.

4 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and HarlequinTeen for this eARC! This title is now available.

WARNING: This review will have spoilers for the first two books. If you’re interested in the series, check out my reviews of The Immortal Rules (#1) and The Eternity Cure (#2)!

So if you read my reviews of the first two books, you know that I was completely blown away by the first one and fairly underwhelmed by the second one. Rather predictably, the final installment was right in between those two feelings.

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Top Ten Characters I’d NEVER Want To Trade Places With

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

So, even though I do read a lot of stuff with different worlds, I found that most of my answers for the top 10 worlds I’d never want to live in depended a lot on who I would be in that world. Given that, I decided to go with the second topic to make things a little easier on myself. So. Here we go!

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Top Ten Most Intimidating Books

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Okay, this is going to be the loosest use of the definition of “intimidating” in all of time and space. I taught myself to read at 3 and read and can read 700 page books in a disturbingly short period of time, so “intimidating” isn’t usually what I apply to books–I tend to look at challenging books as a challenge of how long it’ll take me to finish them. But anyways. Here we go (in no particular order)!

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Top Ten Books Featuring Travel In Some Way

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

This is going to be the loosest top ten list I EVER make. It is also a top ten list made up of my most current reads. I’m sure there are others, but I found ten of them and I decided not to push it. 😛

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ARC Review: “The Eternity Cure” by Julie Kagawa

The Enternity CureThe Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) by Julie Kagawa

Goodreads | Amazon

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

3 1/2 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and HarlequinTeen for this eARC! This title is now available.

WARNING: There WILL be spoilers for the first book! Check out my review of The Immortal Rules if you’re interested!

I went into this book knowing that nothing could be as good as the first book in this series. This is because, a, I went into a complete flail attack over The Immortal Rules and, b, second book syndrome is so rampant lately that I just couldn’t get my hopes up. So I guess,  in that way, I got exactly what I expected.

The book picks up with Allie having just been kicked out of Eden, on her way to finding Kanin. It takes a little while for it to get started, what with her just roaming the countryside and all that. Her nighttime visions of Kanin are seriously creepy, and keep the stakes up while Allie attacks dingy bars and skulks around “Old D.C.” Instead of finding Kanin, however, she first finds her old nemesis, Jackal. He has a proposition of friendship for her–and if she doesn’t accept, he’ll kill her.

Again, this book takes a little while to get started, but once the character of Jackal is introduced all is forgiven. I don’t understand how I can love him so much after what he did in the first book, but his comic relief and sarcastic personality is just the greatest thing ever. At the same time, though, he acts as a great foil for Allie’s continuing struggle with what it means to be a monster. I thought Jackal was the funniest thing ever and loved him, but I never totally trusted him not to go killing everything, and I was very impressed on how Kagawa wrote that balance.

I think my real problem with this book is that it seemed to be going backwards, both in terms of location and characters. At the end of The Immortal Rules, Allie had made it from New Covington to Eden, and the book ended with a fight with Jackal. This book starts with her leaving Eden, meeting Jackal, and then travelling with him to New Covington. The final showdown even takes place in the lab where Allie learned how to be a vampire in the first book.

Closer to the end, the characterization starts to get a little weird as well. Kanin, Allie and Jackal are extremely well done, but some other characters that crop back up seem to come back as weirdly different people. One of these people is Zeke, of course, though he is absent for the first part of the book as per the “middle book syndrome” formula. He’s similar to the Zeke from the first book, but also different, in ways that are weird since he spent time being primped and pampered in Eden. Also, some of the plot twists later made with  his character pop up as “haha gotcha” half jokes clearly just shoehorned in for the sake of the plot. The character of Stick also pops back up, and his transformation is even more severe. Half of it I get, half of it I don’t, but either way his character leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I guess I’m just frustrated with how much of this seemed like filler. In the end, I’m not sure how much was accomplished besides making Sarren even angrier and establishing Jackal as a character. Granted, I enjoy Jackal very much, but still. And then there is the matter of the ending, which…grr. I don’t understand the point of making us think someone is dead if you’re going to reverse that in the next chapter, and make THAT the last chapter of the book. Where’s the cliffhanger there? It makes the next book a little more predictable, and I’m not entirely a fan of where I think it’s going.

All in all, I demoted this one a full star from what I rated it’s predecessor, but I still really think these books are worth a read. Despite my plot problems, Jackal made this book for me, and it was still an enjoyable read. I also have complete faith that Kagawa is going to get back to her blowing-me-away style in the next and last book. I know vampires are getting a bit passe, but these are still definitely on my recommendation list.

2012 End of the Year Book Survey

End of the Year Book Survey

The End of the Year Book Survey is hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner.

So, I found this survey on the blogosphere and thought, “You know, this would be awesome.” So I’m going to do it. Hopefully it’ll become an annual thing, and will help you guys find some new books to read. Oh, and cheating is going to be rampant.

1. Best Book You Read In 2012?

Cheating on the first question, ALRIGHT! Here’s my Top Ten Books I Read in 2012!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Erm, there were a few of these. Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins was one of them. The blogosphere blew up about it but I … wasn’t on board as much. Same with Defiance by CJ Redwine. I wanted so much more out of that one. More recently, Prophecy by Ellen Oh. I liked all these, I just expected more.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, most definetly. The way it’s written, I should hate it. But I LOVE IT.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

Depending on the person, it’s probably a tie between Code Name Verity and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

Oof. That’s a hard one. What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang? Throne of Glass? Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers? The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa? I can’t pick one!

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Nina Berry (Otherkin), Kat Zhang (What’s Left of Me), Jodi Meadows (Incarnate), Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass), Jay Kristoff (Stormdancer)– I should probably stop at some point.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. I don’t particularly like contemporary YA and am very cynical about YA romance, but this one just turned me into a marshmellow.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

Insurgent by Veronica Roth. Ohmygod.

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead. THE IDIGO SPELL IS COMING!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

Basically, my one goal here was to avoid a girl in a dress and that was REALLY HARD. This is Crewel by Gennifer Albin!

Crewel11. Most memorable character in 2012?

Eva and Addie from What’s Left of Me. These are two girls in one body. IT WAS FANTASTIC.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Hands down.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

Code Name Verity for sure. Also Pushing the Limits.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Yeah, I know, it’s THAT BAD.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?

ARE YOU CRAZY THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE? Uh.

“And this, even more wonderful and mysterious, is also true: when I read it, when I read what Julie’s written, she is instantly alive again, whole and undamaged. With her words in my mind while I’m reading, she is as real as I am. Gloriously daft, drop-dead charming, full of bookish nonsense and foul language, brave and generous. She’s right here. Afraid and exhausted, alone, but fighting. Flying in silver moonlight in a plane that can’t be landed, stuck in the climb—alive, alive, ALIVE.”

Code Name Verity

“Her shoulders never shook. No tears streamed down her face. The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see–the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.”

Pushing the Limits

“The hand on my hair moved to my back, and I realized someone was singing softly. The voice was familiar, and something about it made my chest ache.  Well, that was to be expected. Angels’ songs would be awfully poignant.
“‘I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, when I met you…'” the voice crooned.
I frowned. Was that really an appropriate song for the Heavenly Host to be–”

Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

(I think I’ll stop here…)

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

Longest: Literary Theory: Anthology = 1,314 pages

Shortest: Shadowed Ground by Vicki Keire = 120 pages

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead. AGGHGHGHGH GUYS IT HAPPENED AND THEN AGHGHGHGH.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Endlessly by Kiersten White, because EVIE AND LEND. But also Syndey and Adrian from The Golden Lily. But then there’s Noah and Echo in Pushing the Limits. And Sophie and Archer from Spell Bound. And Ellie and Will from Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare or Wings of the Wicked or Spell Bound.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, thanks to THE ENTIRE BLOGOSPHERE.

I’m going to hold this here because wow this is already long, but there are plenty of other questions about blogging and stuff on the whole thing, so check out The Perpetual Pageturner for more questions and blogs!