The Cover Wars


Covers, back copy – this is a series where we judge books like we would in a bookstore: quickly and honestly.


When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

Yash: Oh no. It’s a bird. *nervous smile in Steph’s direction* *whispers* But I still like it. o_O (Okay, I mean, the title is pretty fantastic. It’s unexpected for those two words to go together. Of course, what this has to do with birds I would not know? Either way, I am intrigued. The summary looks intense, but it seems I am more inclined to say yes to these books of late.)

Nafiza: I don’t hate this cover but I don’t love it either. I mean, it’s a bird and unlike Steph, I don’t hate birds on covers much but it’s just…meh? I want to be in that glorious wheat field full of summer goodness (I think I want to be there but I bet it’s hot and uncomfortable there and I’ll last for all of two seconds). As for the summary, I have read a Stephanie Kuehn book before and it wasn’t to my liking because I’m chicken like that. This is not my thing so I will read Yash’s review if she writes one and maybe she can convince me.

Janet: I had the same first reaction to the bird as Yash 🙂 Despite the blah border on the cover, I really like the glimpse the bird’s silhouette gives of the ripening fields. But the synopsis… I don’t like Sadie. She’s bored (and therefore probably boring), apparently manipulative, certainly unkind. I do not want to read about her. And seriously, horrible mysterious secrets are a dime a dozen in YA.

Steph: … the bird thing, again? Unless there is a bird in our little haunted kid’s visions, I don’t think it belongs on the cover. That’s all I’ll say on the subject. I think the troublemaking bored female protagonist love-triangle thing has been done, I’m intrigued by the little brother thing – but will the whole book be switching between these three perspectives? I don’t know if I’m willing… I await Yash’s review.


Best friends, big fans, a mysterious webcomic, and a long-lost girl collide in this riveting novel, perfect for fans of both Cory Doctorow and Sarah Dessen; illustrated throughout with comics.

Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure.

Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her.

Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.

Princess X?

When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There’s an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby’s story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon—her best friend, Libby, who lives.

Yash: This is pretty new and interesting. It uses both photography and illustration to catch readers’ attention and since they are my favourite mediums, I am quite pleased to gaze upon this lovely cover. The summary is pretty cool too. I love the idea of two besties creating something, I love that this focuses on their friendship and their art, and I love the mystery that surrounds Libby. And the cover works so well with the summary. I am in.

Nafiza: Can we say yes? A loud yes? Because YES! Okay, the cover doesn’t interesting things. Two mediums meet and transcend and a whole lot of meta things happening–art plus reality but in reality, it’s all art. The summary sounds awesome and a book that plays with the conventional idea of a book and conflates two genres (graphic novel plus prose)? Yes!

Janet: Ooh, I like this use of a photograph! The dress bothers me, of course, because billowy dresses are a complete liability in a sword fight, ibid for long unbound hair, and doubly ibid for long loose ribbons. Sigh. On the other hand, that fits with her being a graphic novel princess made up by two teens who have probably never held a sword. And it is interesting that said sword is a katana. As for the rest, I agree with Yash. Friendship and friends creating art = awesome. And it’s kind of cool that this takes place in Seattle. I’m also in.

Steph: I’m in too! I like the cover, I think it works really well with the summary of the book – which sounds fresh and entertaining. I am certainly curious enough to start the book. Also, I do like Cory Doctorow and having him as a readalike helps me get over any reservations (like, will the person posing as Princess X just be a guy who has a crush on our Prot with no other reason but that?), there’s something bigger (hopefully!) going on. I’m in! Whoah…. we all just agreed.


From the author of Entwined, a brilliantly conceived adventure through an alternate London. This sweeping, cinematic tale of an apprentice scientist desperate to save his family—and his world—is The Night Circus meets Pixar.

Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that is breathtaking and wholly original.

Yash: I … is he … where is his hand?! THAT IS A VERY UNFORTUNATE PLACE FOR THE TITLE! *ahem* Anyway, yes, I don’t think I am drawn in by the cover. It looks a bit like fanart for The Infernal Devices series, which would have made me happy … but as a cover? I don’t know. For a book that’s supposed to be very Night Circus-esque, it’s not very whimsical, is it? Also, the summary hints at the male being the protagonist and I just– *yawn*

Nafiza: I liked Heather’s previous book but this…tells us nothing or okay, very little. I’m not a fan of male protagonists, I’m sorry, I know I’m breaking some rule of conduct or whatever but I just can’t seem to get into books with male protagonists unless they’re certain books written by certain authors. However, I may give this a try because hey, why not? The cover though…I see bad photoshop. The reason the title is placed there is probably because the dude’s hand had to be cut off. You’d think they could have made something better. :\

Janet: Bwa ha ha, that cover! Where is his hand? The placement of the two figures is awkward, especially since they are supposedly mid-stride. Was this taken from a dance and placed in the landscape? Nafiza’s right, the cover is too photoshopped to appeal. Just so… skinny white people without faces or characters or anything unique and individual in semi-period clothes trying too hard to look natural. The synopsis gives almost no information, certainly nothing striking.

Steph: Hehehehe, no to the cover and I think I’ll have to go no for the read as well. It does look like badly photoshopped fac art for Cassandra Clare’s works and the summary doesn’t give me enough to go on except that it’ll be fantastic in some way and there will be romance (because that’s what we get on the cover). I don’t mind a guy as a protagonist *shrugs* but that makes it even harder to believe this cover…. This cover is really bad.


Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met.

Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life.

Yash: Okay, I cannot honestly say that there is any element on this cover that has grabbed my attention, except maybe, for the Lee & Low sticker. That sticker tells me this book has a diverse cast of characters and yes, that makes me want to pick it up. Family driven mysteries? Yes, please! But this is the Cover Wars and, um, yeah, I don’t really love this cover. Mostly because there isn’t much to love in the first place … (I feel like I am being excessively mean this week. Apologies, I’ll be much nicer once I’ve finished packing and travelling and, uh, getting over jet-lag.)

Nafiza: The Yakuza make an appearance in YA fiction! Ha, this should be interesting. But the cover is honestly so unimaginative and tells me absolutely nothing about the story inside. Surely they could have done something better. Something sleeker, something more dangerous. This though? Not a fan of it. I will check out the novel though.

Janet: I could like the way the title appears to be composed of the materials named (“ink” written in ink, “ashes” written in ash) if they looked like they were actually inscribed upon paper. As it is, they lack all appeal. I’ve heard very good things about Lee and Low, but the cover is unimaginative and the synopsis fairly standard. The yakuza, of which I know nothing, is  a draw, but that is all.

Steph: I mean, the cover is alright, but it doesn’t look like anything special. I’m not sure what I would prefer in this case  because the synopsis doesn’t give me a whole lot to go on except that I might be really annoyed that Claire has to do all of this assuming and fact-hunting for the story to really begin. Why are there secrets? Why, when people ask for answers to people not answer? I’ll tell you. For plot. This book sounds like one of those stories where, if people just talked to each other we could avoid the whole bloody mess.


Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

Yash: Again, the cover doesn’t say much to me. Buuut, at least this one has a nice font and nice colours and books! One the downside, that tagline … does anyone else think that’s a bit too corny? The summary too is a bit … I don’t know. Much? I think I shall await reviews from my fellow Book Warriors. (Also, yet another male protagonist … and let’s be real the last male protagonist I loved was Marie Lu’s Day. It’s a tough act to beat, alright?)

Nafiza: I love books about books so I will probably check out the first chapter or so. As for the cover, well, I sort of like it but I’m ambivalent on the colour palette. I do like the old book aspect of it though.

Janet: The tagline tries to be powerful (punny!) but lacks weight. I like the effect of paper burning away to reveal a hard-worn painted canvas-bound book. I would pick it up for a closer look because of that beautiful blue, the lions rampant, and the title and series title. The synopsis, however, is suspiciously close to a historical allegory with its representation of the Great Library. I’m not sure how one would accidentally create a heretical device. I’ll wait to hear Nafiza’s opinion.

Steph: I don’t mind this cover, the font is nice, the books are nice and the colour palette has the look of fire in it – rebellion? Burning books and knowledge etc..? I’m kind of intrigued, but I’m also kind of wary. I too see the historical allegory but wonder what kind of twists will be added (and yeah, seriously, how do you make a heretical machine? Does he invent Google or something?). So, I’m curious. I think I’ll also look at the first chapter but… that’s all unless I’m really grabbed by the writing.