Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is it me? Judging books by their covers: UF

Is it me, or is Bella from the Twilight movies now gracing a ton of UF covers? And I don't mean the actress necessarily, I mean the look. Young, dark-haired teenage girl holding a big-ass knife in a dreary, dark setting. Is Bella, that sulky, unhappy teenager, becoming the poster child for UF?  

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with UF as a genre. In fact, just the opposite. I think the worlds these authors build are amazing, complex, and interesting places. Ditto for many of the characters. But as a consumer, it makes it hard to tell the books apart, makes me think there's a cookie-cutter profile for the heroines, especially (since they usually grace the covers). So do the art departments do a disservice to these books by making them all look interchangeable? Like I said, I'm well aware that the cookie-cutter heroine isn't the case, it's just my own perception based upon what I'm seeing. And yes, I realize that the same could likely be said about almost any genre (hello - historicals!). I may do a cover post for other genres, too. Unless of course, I'm lambasted for this post, and I really hope not. Cause I'm just posting my own stream-of-consciousness  perceptions. Cover design trends come and go - it's why they're called trends.

So here's my disclosure about UF books (and my own self-psychoanalysis): I don't usually read them. Except those times when I do. I like a good, dark story as much as the next person, but in general, I think I'm more likely to pick up an emotionally complex book based in a world that I am comfortable in rather than read a book set in a complex world that, while there are deep emotions and well written characters, I really have to concentrate at first in order to grasp the importance of each and every piece of information. I'd rather absorb than study. Perhaps it's why I don't care for many of the paranormals out there either. If I need a glossary at the end of the book in order to grasp what's going on, it's probably not the escape I'm after. Again, like I said, just me. Because I know that if I try to have something insightful to say when I review a book, then yes, a certain amount of thinking is obviously involved. Otherwise you all would get a series of "Uhhh... I really liked it" posts. But I like to be free to examine the impact of the character's interactions without having to place it in the context of an unfamiliar world. Does that make any sort of sense?

What did all that have to do with cover art? Not a lot, but I like to ramble, and it's my prerogative.

Back to the topic at hand. For the purposes of this post, I just grabbed 3 covers. Please do not infer that I'm picking on these 3 books or these authors. And yes, I do realize that not ALL UF covers look like this. It's just that lately almost every time I read a review or see a post about a book in the UF genre, the cover will look very similar to these. And while I have to say that I really, really like the cover art in general for these books, in fact I actually think they're quite beautiful and sometimes haunting when well done (looking at the top 2 here, in particular), and they likely convey the general feeling of the book, to me they all pretty much look the same. Or is it just that the cover model is the same?

So is it just me?


  1. I feel the same way Lori. At first I thought they were from same authors when browsing the aisles of Barnes and Noble. I think these trend is highly dependent of what and who is currently hot or currently famous, then everyone else would copy because it could be more sellable. (not sure if that's the right word for it).

  2. Well, I do see your point. I mean those pictures don't lie. I didn't notice the trend, though. Now, I am probabaly going to see it everywhere now that you have pointed it out!

  3. For a while, and maybe still, the female's back was popular in both historical and UF. With the UF cover models sporting tatts.

    It's like the pubs latch on to what they think is the "hot" cover look but then over do it, flooding the market with the same look.

    I agree, like the top 2 covers. I didn't notice until you mentioned it but they could be the same woman or sisters. Maybe she's the Nathan Kamp of UF. :)

  4. Very good points, Lori. I haven't really noticed any of the trends... I'm fairly oblivious. LOL

    I'm just thrilled there are so many more book covers these days that feature women by themselves. Including historical romances. I love that.

  5. Hmmmm, they're not the same cover models right?

    I personally don't think it's because the models look like Bella that they are gracing the covers... but yeah, it's definitively the trend right now...

  6. Have you seen Doug Knipe's (SciFiGuy) video on uf covers? It totally works the theme of the similarity of covers. It's sort of crazy when seeing them all together.

    IDK about these books in particular, but with uf book artist Chris McGrath, he sometimes uses the same models on different series covers, and so there is a resemblance.

  7. Excellent point Lori. I never even noticed! Gosh, talk about unobservant. LOL

  8. Hey! Look! What are you saying about my cover???? LOL. Actually, 3d2d and mine came out of the same art department at Spectra, so it really could be the same model. As for the knife, my heroine doesn't actually carry one. Could the knife be the stand-in for something else?


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