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Confession: This may not come as a surprise, but I’ve become a little disoriented lately with the onslaught of Sad Girls in Pretty Dresses plastered on every single YA title’s cover. They’re dark. They’re moody. They’re alluring. Heck, they may even be setting trends for prom dresses, for all I know. They all. Look. The. Same.

But when I went to my local bookstore the other week, I spotted another dark, moody and alluring title that didn’t feature a red/purple/black dress and an ornate floral design:


What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you see Angry Young Man’s cover? I’m pretty sure I saw the spine before sliding this novel out from the bookshelf, but I can tell you that when I first turned it over to look at the front, my immediate reaction was something along the lines of: “Whoa.”

Those dark clouds, seemingly on the precipice of disaster, are stunning. Whether they were color-treated in the comp or not, they’re beautiful and dark and angry and an effective illustration paired with those thin, uppercase words in the cover’s title. And pairing these reds and oranges against its dark and desaturated background? That wasn’t exactly a light-handed decision.

This brings me to one of my favorite generalizations about covers like these. Angry Young Man represents a specific characteristic of cover art that bears a strong sense of purpose. One glance at this photography and you know what it’s about, no questions asked. It’d be difficult to deny the kind of magnetic pull to read the inside of its jacket, especially after you run your hands over its smooth, lightly textured cover. This cover art isn’t drowning in a sea of Sad Girls in Pretty Dresses — it is the prom dress.

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Bryan Williams