YA Cover Design Trends

I was reading book reviews over on Amazon & Goodreads (like you do) in hopes of finding a good young adult book for a friend, and came across a review for Asylum by Madeleine Roux. The synopsis statement for which said, "NOT for fans of Miss Peregrines' Home for Peculiar Children." And they seemed rather adamant about it (giving the title 1 star, in a sea of mostly 4 star reviews). 

Admittedly, the covers are kind of similar  - sharing some design elements (black and white image of a ghostly girl, handwritten font, filigree embellishments), so I could see why someone might think they were similar in content. (Although, as I look at the covers, not having read either book, the Miss Peregrine design conveys a sense of 'hauntingly playful' whereas the design for Asylum leans toward the scary/disturbing).

Miss Peregrine's Home
for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Asylum by Madeleine Roux

This got me thinking about cover design and how good designs convey the theme of the book. Which then lead me to seek out other covers that shared similar design elements.

Such as the... dreamy or otherworldly lone figure standing in a swirl of clothing / smoke / mist with a rather ambiguous background (and usually displaying a title that makes use of lots of tendrils):

Theme: Romance, fantasy (most likely having to do with witches, vampires, or werewolves), possibly historical (depending on the clothing worn); there are dark elements to overcome.

... or the cropped head/face theme...

Theme: Possible romance elements, definitely fantasy (angels, magic), possible dystopian elements. Things are not quite right.

... or the in-your-face close up of some young (usually) woman as she either steals a glance or is intensely distracted:

Theme: Coming of age, usually in an alternate timeline / society, elements of fantasy or dystopian themes. There's usually a bit of romance but it takes a back seat to the main character finding his or her true nature / strength / identity / belief system.

or, you know, some combination of those elements.

It's not that book jacket designers are hard up for ideas - it's that these designs sell. If you're looking for a certain kind of story - you first look to the cover for clues. How many of us can say we've honestly NOT picked up a book because the cover drew us to it?

As a design geek, I'm constantly judging books by their cover. A really good design will get me to pick up the book and start reading it. A really good story will get me to actually buy the book.

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