Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Judging by the Cover

I'm sure we're all familiar with the age-old cliche, "Don't judge a book by its cover." I'm not even asking; if you're reading this post, you most definitely are familiar with cliches (I am... just look at the title of my blog-site!!)
Now, I'm not saying the cliche is right, but there are certain boundaries that should be put on covers; obviously, it has to be relevant to the book; it has to give some indication as to what to expect. But, and this is my opinion, the main character should be presented in photographic form on the cover. Some people might think, "That's most books though." They're right. I agree, most books do it. But some books, I think, take it perhaps too far.

This cover of Michael Grant's Gone is a prime example of what I'm talking about; we have two models representing two of the characters in the book (Astrid and Sam, I believe). What's my problem with it? Well, in my mind that's not how they looked. This is someone else's vision of the characters.

And here's the cover of New Moon by Stephenie Meyer; it's the movie tie-in. This is both better and worse - better, because at least it's obvious to people who've seen the large posters everywhere who the characters are, worse because the cover is now dependant on another form of telling the same story.

And finally, Sarah Rees Brennan's The Demon's Lexicon; we are given, once more, a visual representation of the main character, leaving nothing to the imagination. This is my real problem with book covers; many readers perceive the image on the front as a basis for what the character described to them is like. I'm not pointing fingers, but it's a fact. I imagine people who saw a movie of a book before they read it will see the actors in their head, not the characters described to them.

So, how do we stop this? Well, I think UK cover artists are already working on it. With the exception of Brennan's book, these titles all have UK original covers that don't show very much of the story (Gone having just the cover Gone in big highlighted letters, against a black background, New Moon having a flower on it, again with a black background). These covers are both more modern, if done correctly, and leave us to imagine the characters as we read them, not as someone else does. Leave the visuals after that to fan-art and movies!

What do you reckon? Will modern-art type covers finally come to the fore, or will we be eternally forced to see someone else's interpretation of what a character looks like before we've even read the description?

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Definitely agree. What's worse is when the models don't agree with the author's description.