Here on the Book Wars’ own Cover Wars, we judge books solely according to their covers: art and blurb. (Okay, sometimes we have alternate sources of information, but hey! We’re only human.) This month, the Cover Wars has a theme: books with ace protagonists. Some of these characters are also aro; others are not.
This week’s Ace Cover Wars has a sub-theme: (post)apocalypses.
The city of Parole is burning. Like Venice slips into the sea, Parole crumbles into fire.
The entire population inside has been quarantined, cut off from the rest of the world, and left to die – directly over the open flame. Eye in the Sky, a deadly and merciless police force ensures no one escapes. Ever. All that’s keeping Parole alive is faith in the midst of horrors and death, trust in the face of desperation… and their fantastic, terrifying, and beautiful superhuman abilities.
Regan, stealth and reconnaissance expert with a lizard’s scales and snake’s eyes, is haunted by ten years of anxiety, trauma and terror, and he’s finally reached his limit. His ability to disappear into thin air isn’t enough: he needs an escape, and he’ll do anything for a chance. Unluckily for him, Hans, a ghostly boy with a chilling smile, knows just the thing to get one. It starts with a little murder.
But instead of ending a man’s life, Regan starts a new one of his own. He turns away from that twisted path, and runs into Evelyn, fearless force on stage and sonic-superheroic revolutionary on the streets. Now Regan has a choice – and a chance to not only escape from Parole, but unravel the mystery deep in its burning heart. And most of all, discover the truth about their own entwining pasts.
They join forces with Evelyn’s family: the virtuosic but volatile Danae, who breathes life into machines, and her wife Rose, whose compassionate nature and power over healing vines and defensive thorns will both be vital to survive this nightmare. Then there’s Zilch, a cool and level-headed person made of other dead people, and Finn, one of Parole’s few remaining taxi drivers, who causes explosions whenever he feels anything but happy.
Separately they’d never survive, much less uncover the secret of Parole’s eternally-burning fire. Together, they have a chance. Unfortunately, Hans isn’t above playing dirty, lying, cheating, manipulating… and holding Regan’s memories hostage until he gets his way.
Parole’s a rough place to live. But they’re not dead yet. If they can survive the imminent cataclysmic disaster, they might just stay that way…
Janet: The cover doesn’t do anything for me and the synopsis is way too long… but the cast of characters it introduces and the glimpses of a hostile world are appealing. Plus, despite the imminent peril, the last paragraphs imbue the synopsis with a steady breath of hope.
Nafiza: I’m sorry but that cover is horrendous. And the synopsis is too long and lost my interest before I even got halfway through. I will be passing this one.
Celosia Brennan was supposed to be a hero. After a spectacular failure that cost her people their freedom, she is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance at redemption. Together with a gifted team of rebels, she not only sets her sights on freedom, but defeating her personal demons along the way.
Now branded a failure, Celosia desperately volunteers for the next mission: taking down the corrupt Council with a team of her fellow elementally gifted mages. Leading the Ember Operative gives Celosia her last hope at redemption. They seek to overthrow the Council once and for all, this time bringing the fight to Valeria, the largest city under the Council’s iron grip. But Celosia’s new teammates don’t trust her—except for Ianthe, a powerful Ice Elementalist who happens to believe in second chances.
With Council spies, uncontrolled magic, and the distraction of unexpected love, Celosia will have to win the trust of her teammates and push her abilities to the breaking point to complete the Ember Operative. Except if she falters this time, there won’t be any Elementalists left to stop the Council from taking over not just their country, but the entire world.
Janet: The cover doesn’t give a sense of Celosia’s character (and who is the figure in the background?), even though her face is front and centre. How? The back copy is intriguing: what is her failure? how and why did she go so wrong? and what happens with this new team? Redemption arc,
superheroes magical heroes, and a corrupt, prejudiced Council; sounds intriguing.
Nafiza: Once again, the cover is not compelling. The first paragraph of the synopsis sounds so staged that it makes me pause. Still, it is better than the previous one. However, I’m still not interested.
Henry Schmitt wants nothing more than a quiet life and a daily ration of instant noodles. At least until he learns the terrible secret that drove his father away—the Plague that killed his mother and ravaged his country was created by those now in power. He has one chance to help expose the conspiracy: a ragtag band of rebels needs a pilot for their hot air balloon, where they can launch a broadcast revealing the truth. If Henry accepts, he can experience his dream of flight. But he would have to leave his safe, tranquil life behind … and bring the wrath of a corrupt government upon his head.
Janet: The cover style is reminiscient of the new Airborn trilogy covers, given an ominous edge. The back copy shows flashes of humour and leaves details tantalizing just out of reach.
Nafiza: The cover is interesting and the back copy is pithy, designed to intrigue. Ha, I don’t know how long it will take Henry Schmitt to tire of instant noodles. You can hardly eat it every day and still like it.
[Iamos Trilogy #1. #ownvoices]
IAMOS, S.C.D. 8378
Nadin’s planet is dying. As its atmosphere drains away, her people are forced to live huddled in domed cities for protection. With only enough resources to support the population for one more year, time is running out. Nadin thinks she’s found a way to save Iamos, but it will mean defying the planet’s rulers, the geroi—and betraying the geroi could cost her everything.
When a strange boy from another world appears out of nowhere outside the citidome’s glass walls, Nadin knows for sure that her plan will work. But to build the device that can save her people, Nadin must first find the legendary city of Elytherios. And to do that, she’ll need the help of the mysterious alien boy named Isaak.
MARS, 2073 C.E.
All Isaak wanted was to get through his senior year at the Academy in one piece. Everything would have been fine if he hadn’t found that ancient coin among his missing father’s possessions. The coin seems to have a strange connection not only to Isaak’s family, but to Mars’ ancient past.
But how is that possible, on a planet that was supposed to be dead until just forty years ago?
Now Isaak’s got agents of the Earth’s government on his tail and a deranged factory worker stalking his every move. Everyone is desperate to get their hands on something called the Key. And the only way to escape is to unlock an even bigger secret, one that could change his life—and the fate of Mars—forever.
Janet: The cover art looks like a sci-fi movie poster, with the same oddly hypnotic effect. The back is a bit of a mess, thematically, with plot details and tropes sprawling willy nilly. Minus points for using “deranged.” I’d look at the first few pages, though.
Nafiza: Why do they insist on squeezing two heads into a cover that is already crowded. This is not my genre.
Colt, Janie, and Damien were planning a weekend at Zed Games when the real apocalypse canceled their trip. Now the planet is trying to kill them. Evacuation by plane is less than successful. The Piper goes down. They survive, stranded somewhere up the East Coast with all the gear they could ask for but no idea where to go, and natural disasters erupting in every direction.
Colt never saw himself as a leader. Now his friends are turning to him to make decisions, but he can’t be sure of his answers. He’s used to having one foot in two worlds—a Cherokee living in Asheville, three-quarters nerd and one-sixteenth responsible adult—but never in charge. Now he feels the pressure to keep his friends alive while the planet is dying. Janie, a librarian, and Damien, jack of all trades, have some skills between them, but it may not be enough.
Scraping from one disaster to the next, Colt and his friends encounter Mab, a punky survivor on her way back to a safe haven in the Canadian wilderness. She invites them to tag along. Recruiting some horses from an abandoned farm, Colt, Janie, and Damien charge into the post-civilized unknown.
Janet: The cover looks rather self-published, which is a bit off-putting. On the other hand, it also looks like art someone might draw of their D&D campaign, which is very cool. The back copy promises unexpected leadership! Indigenous protagonist! nerds! friendship! Canadian content! survival! horses! – aka a fun ride. I’d read this.
Nafiza: The cover, yikes. Survival stories are not for me. I shall pass on this as well. Sorry, it seems like none of the books intrigue me enough this week.