The Cover Wars

At seventeen, Mei Lu should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth—that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when she reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

Janet: I wouldn’t say the cover is terribly interesting, but it gives a warm romance vibe. Plus, we get to see all of her face, and she looks happy. The back is maybe a little predictable, but it also looks both cute and funny. And I can definitely see Taiwanese parents not being down with their daughter dating a Japanese boy. This looks like a fun summer read.

Nafiza: After enjoying When Dimple Met Rishi, I’m thirsty for romances featuring POC protagonists and this seems right up my alley. I also empathize deeply with Mei because I cannot imagine introducing someone to my parents who doesn’t meet all their requirements. The cover is warm and inviting and I love that the WOC is smiling. It’s on my TBR.

Yash: I know people who have already read the ARC and are dying to talk about how good it is and can’t because the book comes out next year, lol. Anyway, yes, I love the animated cover online, the fact that her face isn’t cropped out, and ooh, her drink looks so good. Anyway, yes, I’m in!

Jane: Cute! What a cute happy cover – look at that hot chocolate (or coffee I guess but I prefer hot chocolate)! And wow, her life story sounds like that of so many of my friends. I’m hoping for a sweet, happy ending for this character.

Three sisters born under different stars, sharing the same tragic ancestry and ambitious destiny, vie with each other and with the kings who will be their allies, enemies, and pawns, in a dangerous, sexy, deadly game for power, ignited by the madness of a declining king and the reappearance of a bastard soldier who wants to tear it all down.

A feminist, multicultural epic fantasy with the operatic feeling of GAME OF THRONES, inspired by the author’s conflicted relationship with KING LEAR and her desire to confront head-on provocative questions about birthright, gender, faith, and the complicated bonds of family.

Janet: Dramatic cover. Not sure how I feel about its total effect. The scrabbling hands on their long thin wrists look (suitably?) desperate to hold that crown. As for the back copy, much as I’d be interested in reading about a multicultural and feminist King Lear-ian story of three sisters, the comparison to Game of Thrones is decidedly off-putting, as is “a dangerous, sexy, deadly game for power.”

Nafiza: I think the cover is badass, I really do but that back copy makes my eyes cross. The first paragraph is entirely one sentence and completely exhausting. I want to read this though. I reckon the book will be fun.

Yash: I think the cover is beautiful and has some Pat McGrath vibes with that hypnotic gold and brown? I could stare forever. And I don’t think the hands are scrabbling? They seem to just be holding the crown over someone’s head? Anyway, I think I’d be into this retelling/adaptation.

Jane: Ooooh – feminist, multicultural epic operatic high fantasy?!? That’s quite a lot of awesome to live up to! To be honest, though, that cover looks so familiar, like it’s been done before. I guess it’s the crown – I feel like I’ve seen a lot of crowns on YA covers recently. I’m hoping that they will take the epic world building from Game of Thrones, and not the repugnant sexual aspects…And wow – that is one incredibly long run-on sentence.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

Janet: The cover is bold, character-driven, and the half-face peering at the reader from beneath a headdress (hair? magic?) reminds me of The Goblin Emperor: all good things. The back copy looks wonderful. (*waves dramatic floppy arms* I am just going to ignore the last phrase – so predictable – although on second thought makes the story sound like a Nigerian Aang/Zuko story. I would read that.) Anyway, tbr.

Nafiza: Well. Yes. Please.

Yash: Ahhh, for once the cropped face does not bother me much. It’s a gorgeous, unique cover. You couldn’t mistake it for any other cover out there. I love the riot of colours and how your eyes can’t help but meet the eyes of the cover. Anyway, I’m in. I’ve already been hearing amazing things about it.

Jane: UGH like Janet, I’m just going to ignore that last line (please no more “forbidden love with the enemy” story lines!), but the rest of the story sounds really interesting.

A story of the undead like you’ve never read before, Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation is a fresh, stunning, and powerful meditation on race in America wrapped in an alternate-history adventure where Confederate and Union soldiers rise from the dead at the end of the Civil War.

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

At once provocative, terrifying, and darkly subversive, Dread Nation is Justina Ireland’s stunning vision of an America both foreign and familiar—a country on the brink, at the explosive crossroads where race, humanity, and survival meet.

Janet: Beautiful cover. May I just stare at it for a while? I love how you can tell that Jane is thinking and feeling things she is not about to share with you. She looks alert, observant and aware and so ready to act. Gah! And the blood-stained scythe. There is history gone into this cover. The back copy feels a little too full, as if somebody tried to pack too much in; but overall, this looks like a lot of fun. Sign me up.

Nafiza: I think this is the first time I have seen Janet be so effusive about a book cover. It feels a bit strange tbh. *eyes Janet suspiciously* Who are you? ^___^ That said, brilliant cover is brilliant for exactly the reasons Janet said. And I will get over my fear of zombies and give this book a read.


Jane: I do wish the back copy wasn’t so wordy – I really don’t need this much detail. But Miss Preston’s School of Combat?!? Zombies?! Kick-ass young woman character named JANE? A biracial heroine? Sounds pretty dang cool.

Princess Academy meets Megan Whalen Turner in this stunning novel about a girl who won’t let anything tame her spirit—not the government that conquered her people, and definitely not reform school!

Malley has led the constables on a merry chase across her once-peaceful country. With her parents in prison for their part in a failed resistance movement, the government wants to send her to a national school—but they’ll have to capture her first.

And capture her they do. Malley is carted off be reformed as a proper subject of the conquering empire, reeducated, and made suitable for domestic service. That’s the government’s plan, anyway.

But Malley will not go down without a fight. She’s determined to rally her fellow students to form a rebellion of their own. The government can lock these girls up in reform school. Whether it can break them is another matter entirely…

Janet: The cover is very MG romp, part fairy tale (those gates) and part French revolution (the red, the flag, the R), and I am definitely interested in reading about those girls. The back copy’s mention of Princess Academy and Megan Whalen Turner is promising. My concern is the reform school/domestic service training aspect. I want to love this book, but first I need to know that this fictional school doesn’t make light of the real residential schools and the students who suffered at them.

Nafiza: I feel like this book had me intrigued with the cover and then reeled me in with the comp to Turner. But like Janet I am a bit wary about it for the reasons she stated though I am full of hope that it tackles the schools with the sensitivity and thought they should be treated with.

Yash: I do love this cover for MG audiences. I’m tentatively interested. I’d read a few early reviews before making my mind up, but generally, I do like the cover.

Jane: Hmmm…I’m not quite sure what to make of this one. The cover is cute, but the back copy sounds darker, so they don’t quite seem to mesh. Being a rebel isn’t cute or “merry” – it’s dangerous, bloody and often deadly. I’m just honestly not sure what to make of it all.

Something is wrong in Hidden Creek. The sleepy Alabama town is more haunted than any place fiend hunter Grisham Caso has ever seen. Unearthed graves, curse bags, and spilled blood all point to an evil that could destroy his gargoyle birthright. The town isn’t safe for anyone, and everyone says fiery Piper Devon knows why.

Piper wants to leave Hidden Creek behind. She’s had enough of secrets—they hide in the shadows of her room and tell her terrible things are coming. Too-charming city boy Grisham might be her only chance to save herself.

To survive, Piper and Grisham have to shed their secrets and depend only on each other. But what lurks in Hidden Creek still might take everything away from them, including each other.

Janet: The title font is pretty. There have been a lot (a lot a lot a lot) of this style of title recently, but I guess that lets readers know right away what they’re getting into. The back copy confirms: supernatural/horror romance. All in all, a little too predictable. I’ll pass.

Nafiza: The cover is intriguing. I like the colour palette. Alas, the back copy does not pique my attention. It is a pass for me.

Yash: Mm, it isn’t a bad cover. It’s just not what I’d pick up, I guess. Anyway, the synopsis started off a little like Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, but … then wasn’t. I guess I just want to re-read some SRB actually.

Jane: The cover really doesn’t pull me in, or give me much of a sense of the story (except that it’s dark). And..a gargoyle? Aren’t they the statues on churches? So…is he a statue that comes to life? Or am I confusing them with something else? Two outcasts, drawn together, but the darkness might pull them apart – not my personal cup of tea. I also don’t know who Wendy Sparrow is, so the fact that she’s writing this under a pseudonym doesn’t really mean much to me.