Judging Books By Their Covers: 10 Deceptive Covers

I try not to judge books by their covers, but I do more than I probably should.  Thankfully now that I’m blogging and active on Twitter and Goodreads, I’m reading far more reviews than I ever have before which has helped me look past covers.  When it comes to covers, I’ve found that I’m much more judgmental about them when I’m thinking about my students and what will draw their attention.  For these reasons I really like this Top 1o Tuesday prompt because it’s giving me a chance to narrow down the most deceptive covers.  When I put this list together, I thought about books that I was hesitant to read because of the cover, books that I wish were better suited for their audience, and books that give the wrong impression about the topic.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Goodreads): I’m a HUGE fan of this trilogy, but when I first heard about The Hunger Games at the MCTE (Michigan Council of Teachers of English) conference I was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon.  My friend and I stopped at a book store after the conference to check out some books and I passed up The Hunger Games because the cover looked boring.  Thankfully I looked past my judgment and read it.  I appreciate the cover now 🙂

Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison (Goodreads): This cover is gorgeous!  And it ends there.  I saw this cover and thought it was going to be a romantic, gushy book.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Besides the fact that this is one of the worst books I’ve ever read, the cover and the plot don’t mesh AT ALL.

Tempest by Julie Cross (Goodreads): There are two issues I have with this cover.  The first one is that I thought this was a book about fallen angels or something when I first looked at the cover.  The characters are in the sky, one is falling, the other is reaching, it screams paranormal love story to me.  I never would have guessed it’s about time travel.  I definitely wouldn’t have guessed that a guy is narrating the story.  That’s my second issue.  I can’t stand it when perfectly good books with guy appeal are given girly covers.

I Know It’s Over by C.K. Kelly Martin (Goodreads): Both the hardcover and the paperback cover for this book are deceptive.  It’s obvious judging by both covers that Martin’s novel deals with a relationship.  I’m not sure who the audience is though.  Both covers are more appealing to girls than guys, but our narrator has an incredibly authentic male voice.  I really think guys would enjoy and relate to this book, but I don’t see any of my boys in class borrowing my copy.  I talked it up all over the place to grab the guys’ interest, but only the girls are borrowing it.

I Know It's Over Paperback Hardcover I Know It's Over

Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann (Goodreads):  Cryer’s Cross is a really cool book full of creepiness.  The original cover fits the mood perfectly with the desk and the creepy handwriting.  I am not thrilled with the paperback cover at all.  Romance is not a big focus in Cryer’s Cross, but this cover gives the impression that it is.  The mystery involved in the story isn’t represented in this cover either.

Hardcover Cryer's Cross Cryer's Cross Paperback

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn (Goodreads): I love this book, and I love teaching it in my Y.A. Lit class.  One of the main reasons I’m such a big fan is because it’s almost always a winner for my reluctant male readers.  Admittedly, many of my students tell me that they would never pick this one up based on the original cover, but once we start reading it they really appreciate the cover.  When the paperback was released I showed my students to get their opinions.  For the most part they don’t care for it.  Their reasons match my own.  This cover says nothing about the book and the abuse that goes on.  The models don’t exactly look like they’re in love, but Nick’s anger isn’t represented.

Breathing Underwater Original Cover Paperback Breathing Underwater

The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler (Goodreads): Something about this cover leaves me with the impression that it’s girly and upbeat.  Maybe it’s the pink.  Maybe it’s the hip jutted out to the side.  The problem with this is that this is not an upbeat book.  Virginia is battling some heavy issues (no pun intended).  She has very low self-esteem, her brother has been accused of something horrible, and her family is falling apart.  It’s a good book, but the cover needs to look more serious to fit the tone of the book.

Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupula (Goodreads): Tell Me a Secret is an unputdownable book.  It deals with serious issues and broke my heart at the same time that it left me feeling hopeful.  I think the cover gives the impression that it’s a serious book, but it looks like it’s about a romantic relationship.  There really isn’t any romance to speak of.  Tell Me a Secret deals with Miranda’s sister’s death, Miranda’s pregnancy, and problems with Miranda and her parents.

But I Love Him by Amanda Grace (Goodreads): But I Love Him is another unputdownable book.  The cover, while being dark, doesn’t strike me as serious as the topic is.  The sea glass heart looks a little too friendly to represent a book about a broken and abusive relationship, but this heart is on the cover because of the symbol it represents within the story.

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle (Goodreads): I haven’t finished reading When You Were Mine yet, but I’ve read enough to wish that the cover was different.  It’s a different spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, so we know it’s a love story and we get that impression from the cover.  I’m just not a fan of covers like this because it doesn’t give us any other information about the book.  It looks like any other love story out there, but based on the premise of this book it should have a cover with more personality or more of a story.


  1. I agree with you about The Earth, My Butt…It was not at all what I expected. I haven’t read the others on your list.

  2. Totally agree about the Carolyn Mackler novel! And that’s too bad about Tris & Izzie- the cover is gorgeous, and it’s book that just is not getting great reviews.

    Great list! If you’d like, you can take a peak at my Top Ten: http://www.fabbityfabbookreviews.com/2012/04/top-ten-tuesday-books-that-were.html

  3. Re: The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things You are so right about this one! Even the title seems a little cheeky, but the themes are very serious. Loved the book, though. I wonder what would suit the story better? Did you picture something different as you were reading it?

    • It’s been a while since I’ve read it, so I can’t picture a different cover. I feel bad being so judgmental about these when I don’t always know how I’d redesign them.

  4. I had no idea ‘Tempest’ was about time travel! I’ve seen the book in bookshops recently and just thought it was another girly love story/angel thing. Now I know that it is not I will get it! They should get you to do the covers…you’ve already sold one book 😛

    My TTT: http://www.pocketfulofbooks.com/2012/04/top-ten-tuesday-books-that-were-totally.html

  5. I tend to judge books by covers too, unless I’ve read a review or the blurb on it and decided to take a chance anyway.

  6. The When You Were Mine cover looks really similar to the Breathing Underwater cover, come to think of it. ALSO I was thisclose to putting Tell Me A Secret on my list as well, because it was just not a romantic read at all.

  7. Great list of books. I’ve heard those same things about Tris & Izzie and Tempest…maybe from following you 😉

  8. Tell Me a Secret does look like a romance-type book- good to know!
    Also, agreed that the cover of Tempest is misleading. It would have wider appeal with a less romantic cover. In fact, recently my daughter loaned the book to a friend who stopped reading when she figured out it was told from a male POV. She felt that there was some cover deception there.

  9. The hard cover for Cryer’s Cross works, but the paperback leaves my scratching my head and thinking huh? Great list!

  10. I thought Tempest was a fallen angel book as well! And the Breathing Underwater cover is ridiculous! The previous cover is so much better.

    Do you think that the covers are being girly-fied because publishers know that girls/women are the people who are buying the books? I wish the author had more input into the covers for their books.

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      Sadly I think they do. It’s really unfortunate that so many are overlooking the guys who buy/read books because they’re really doing a disservice to those readers and authors. Maybe one day the authors will have more of a say 🙂

  11. Totally agree with you about When You Were Mine. I think the cover’s really pretty especially with that lovely font but the plot gives it so much potential! Why cop out? And I hate the Cryer’s Cross paperback. I would have been a lot happier if they had reused the cover, it’s really perfect for the book.

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