1. Are models used on the cover? And if so, are the models a good representation of the characters within the book?
2. Font. This is one of my BIGGEST THINGS in covers and something that I always think is the most overlooked aspect of many YA book covers.
3. Do the different elements of the cover come together? Are they cohesive; does the cover have a finished, polished look?
4. Is the cover a good representation of the story?
5. Does the cover make me want to pick up the book?
Cover #1: 7 Clues to Winning You, by Kristin Walker
This is a contemporary YA novel. It's told in first person from one girl's perspective and the characters are juniors in high school. The models on this cover look a bit young to me and the amount of people on the cover makes me think that it's a multiple POV story or at least a novel with a large cast of characters, neither of which are true. On the whole, I'm not impressed by the cover; it gives no indication of what the story is about (a girl who starts at a new school where her dad is the principal and ends up running an underground scavenger hunt to earn the respect of her peers) and definitely doesn't make me want to pick up the book. It feels and looks like a bunch of different stock photographs photoshopped together. I like the font, but the colors and arrows don't fit the mood of the story at all.
A better cover: I'm horrible at graphic design, but in my head I imagine a Geek Charming-ish cover for this book. Pretty, preppy girl, preferably with a head and maybe a backpack instead of a purse. Also, the cover needs pink.
Cover #2: The Probability of Miracles, by Wendy Wunder
This is another contemporary YA told in first person from one girl's perspective. And I love this cover. There's very little I can say critically against it. The font is incredible, as are the colors, and the feather against the sky sets up the idea of "miracles" really nicely I think. If anything, I wish the model looked a bit less vibrant and healthy since the protagonist of this novel is living with incurable cancer. This is one book where I love the cover more than the story itself; it's just the right mix of artsy and current.
Cover #3: Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi
This first-person futuristic sci-fi-ish novel is more along the lines of what many think of as far as YA novels are concerned, which is why I want to talk about it. For much of the story the protagonist, Juliette, is very much a broken girl and this model has such a fierce look that I really don't think it's a very good representation of her. Though the shiny and embossed cover effects are awesome, overall this is a cover that, while technically pretty and well-put-together, just doesn't make me want to pick up the book. The colors all go together and the font is pretty good, but it gives absolutely no idea of the story inside and doesn't do the book justice.
A better cover: Honestly, I'm not sure, but I'm thinking a darker, more drastic and less generic cover. Get rid of the fierce girl in the wedding dress for starts. I'd love a cover with the color scheme of Restoring Harmony, or maybe something like this foreign cover for Neva, which is still a little generic but I feel like would fit the mood of Shatter Me so much better.
Cover #4: Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
Another sci-fi novel, this one a science-fiction-y retelling of Cinderella. Mostly I really like the cover. The font is great -- both fairytale-looking and futuristic. And I love the translucent leg with the robot parts inside. If there's anything I don't love it's the fact that the shoe is red instead of glass, but that may just be because my vision of Cinderella is the Disney version. Still, I like this foreign cover just a teensiest bit more.
Here are a few other things about YA covers: just like YA is more than one genre, so are its covers. Contemporary, historical, sci-fi, dystopia, paranormal, and fantasy cover trends are all a bit different. What I think of when I think of YA covers may not be what you think of, and it definitely isn't what you'd typically see face-out in stores. What types of covers do you think of when you think of YA book covers?