cover love: “girls underwater”

In any visual medium, it’s extremely difficult to not compare trends — to avoid comparing them is simply unhealthy. Our eyes tend to view and take notice of how ideas and concepts are different, similar, unique, attention-grabbing, and just…same ol’ same ol’.

Unfortunately, such is the case of the Pretty Dress/Sad Girl on a Paranormal Cover. If you’ve read any sort of paranormal YA, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and visual aids are entirely unnecessary.

During mid-November of last year, I saw my first “girls underwater” cover that made me pause what I was doing at work, and really examine it for awhile. I had one of those squint-your-eyes, tilt your head, and say “Ohhh” kind of moments.

As Nova Ren Suma’s second novel and first YA, I’m sure she’s pretty proud of her experience with knockout covers. (Her MG novel, Dani Noir, is awesome as well) Imaginary Girls’ cover art captures a small mixture of emotional tones, but the first that hits me is sadness. It’s the kind of cover that makes you hold your breath a little, but its artistry gives you enough relief to take a moment to understand how beautiful it is.

The cover art comes from the collaboration of two talented individuals, underwater photographer Elena Kalis and Penguin art director Linda McCarthy. What you see here is a subtle take on reality — a redheaded, red-ribboned girl who appears to be floating downward in the water. It’s poetic and serene. Rotate 90º counter-clockwise and you have a girl who’s floating gently to the surface. A different image altogether with a slightly different tone.

The red-on-white, punchy blue, and floating white tagline come together to create quite an intriguing cover. And you know I’m an absolute sucker for all caps/all lowercase.

Speaking of all lowercase.

I’ll admit that seeing The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer’s cover several weeks after Imaginary Girls made me pause, but mostly for the wrong reasons. (Remember that trend thing?)

But that’s precisely when I decided to change my mind. Both Mara and Imaginary Girls accomplish a lot of visual storytelling at first glance. The tone of Mara may be darker, murkier, and far more romantic, but both covers leave me equally intrigued. (And I can’t wait to see what the finished prints look like!) Both covers are manipulative in the sense that you want to believe the story at (pretty) face value — but behind each face you hope there will be arresting revelations that will pull you in much deeper than their covers.

Pun totally intended.

21 thoughts on “cover love: “girls underwater”

  1. Under water covers are slowly becoming some of my new favs. I love the essence of floating. It’s beautiful, yet tragic at the same time. Are they floating? or sinking? I caught myself tilting my head to the left on the first cover. The break in the water made me do so. I’m in love with that second cover though. Is he saving her? or is he dragging her down? Mysteries!!!

    • Yes, I must know if he’s saving her or dragging her down too, G! I also failed to mention that I absolutely love the summary for Mara:

      Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a
      hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can.

      She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember
      that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is.

      She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been
      through, she can fall in love. She’s wrong.

  2. heh. I just did a similar post — These girls, they need less water!

  3. You are definitely spot-on with the pretty dress/sad girl trend! I do really like these two covers you highlighted because for me, they are a little more interesting to look at and definitely tell a story. Every time I see a cover with water I always take a second look – which is probably a good thing, right? :)

  4. I love these covers. I think they just feel very refreshing compared to all the darker covers we see in YA.

    • Refreshing — is that a play on words? ;) Imaginary Girls certainly looks very refreshing!

  5. These covers are gorgeous. I’m a fan of the underwater motif. There’s something eerie and graceful about them. It reminds me of that “get lost in a book” campaign they did last year I think where the girls were falling into books like Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland.

    • Oooh, I will definitely be checking out that campaign. I’ll holler at you if I can’t find it. Thanks, Erin.

  6. You know, that first cover very obviously calls upon an earlier image that I absolutely adore: Lady in the Water: 1947.

    And now I’m glad I didn’t use that for the cover of the latest book I’ve designed, because it’s totally not a “sad girls underwater” book.

  7. I swear I love both of these SO much, and not just because of my love of water. They’re haunting and just a wee bit mysterious.

    It helps that I won an art print of the cover of MARA :)

    • I read about it, congrats Melissa! I’d love to see a pic of it when your prize arrives. =)

  8. Both of these covers made my jaw drop. They are just spectacularly beautiful. But I must say, I found the Unbecoming of Mara Dyer cover even more interesting because the position of the man’s arms could be seen as romantic… or creepy and threatening. And honestly? I am down with both. I know UoMD is supposed to be a touch scary, so I thought it got that across with SUCH immediacy, I loved/love it.

    • I can definitely see the creep factor. With darker imagery, murky water, you do get the sense of OMG IS HE TRYING TO DROWN HER. (or SAVE her?! We need to KNOW!)

      I can’t wait to get my hands on both of these books.

  9. TOO MUCH BOOK COVER LOVIN IN ONE POST! I WANT THEM BOTH!! and i kind of want mara dyers dress too. you kill me with these posts! i start getting angsty and mad because i dont have them RIGHT THIS SECOND AND I WANTS THEM NOW!

  10. This cover reminded me of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer when I saw it the other day, too! I love both covers a lot. I can’t wait to see final prints. This one just made me sit up and stare at my computer for a while.

    Have you see the cover for “Throat” by R.A. Nelson? I was captivated by it at the bookstore today. The model looks so…vulnerable.

    • Yes, I have seen the cover for Throat. And pardon my caps, but OMG THAT COVER FREAKS ME OUT. It’s definitely…skintastic.

  11. women and kisses, pleasure, see the love
    the girl under water, is the feeling of
    pleasure of the kiss

  12. Pingback: artist abbreviated: heather landis |

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