By Alex Arthun, MLS
We’ve all been told at some point in our lives not to judge a book by its cover. And we’ve all done it anyway.
I think that’s okay, though. Book covers are often what invite us to pick up a book in the first place to read the synopsis or skim the first few pages. And designers work very hard to create these works of art that are totally worthy of appreciation.
One of the most important aspects of cover design is its ability to connect with an audience. Kind of like Readers’ Advisory, there are many ways a book cover can connect to a potential reader. It all depends on what the reader is looking for.
Here are several great YA book covers from 2021 and why we love them.
Most readers have a favorite genre, and most genres have covers with common visual cues. So if readers are looking for more of their favorite kinds of books, these covers promise more of what you love.
The flowery background, gorgeous couple, and looping text on the cover of Nicola Yoon’s Instructions for Dancing promises a diverse romance that’s literally going to sweep me off my feet.
On the other hand, the bloodstained shoe and gold accents in Jessica Goodman’s They’ll Never Catch Us might be perfect for your upper-class murder mystery/thriller aficionados.
Some great covers introduce you to a main character in such a way that you just HAVE to pick up the book to learn more about what’s going on.
The jacket art on Eat Your Heart Out by Kelly Devos could grab some people for its horror/satire genre elements. Not generally being a fan of zombie fiction, however, I am drawn to Vivian on the cover here. Plus-sized characters are rarely the hero in any genre, so I want to read her story.
The cover of The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley depicts a Black sword-wielding tightrope walker over a burning city. I never knew I wanted to read a book about a Black sword-wielding until I saw this cover, and now I cannot wait to get my hands on it.
Some covers evoke a particular tone that draws a reader to it through an emotional reaction.
The image, the colors, and the font choice in the cover for The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky immediately sends shivers up my spine. If I wanted to be creeped out, I would grab this book.
The cover of Tirzah Price’s Pride and Premeditation immediately reminds me of the plethora of feminine covers out there for English lit classics. If Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, or Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote one of my favorite novels, this retelling would draw me in.
And then sometimes book covers hook us in because the artist knows how to make your eyes move.
The artist for Steelstriker by Marie Lu decided to put a beacon on their main character to make it stand out from other books.
Whereas the cover art for David Arnold’s The Electric Kingdom sucks us into the book.
We recognize that compiling a list like this is a subjective exercise. We’d love to hear on Twitter what some of your favorite YA book covers of the year are! Tweet us @TheLibraryLife_ to chime in.
And if you want even more eye-catching YA books from 2021, make sure to check out our full list here.