I will judge a book by its cover and I will not be made ashamed thank you very much. As much as we all love a good rant, here I will talk about book covers that I think are particularly good and why they’re good. As with almost everything on this blog, there will be a good deal of spoilers in these posts as good covers will always tell us something about the book they’re advertising. In the end, covers are advertising and if you don’t have a good cover it’ll be harder, but not impossible, to sell people on your book. Alright, let’s get to it.
I’m really excited to talk about the cover for Only Ever Yours because the book is very significant to me. I can’t even remember how I found out about Louise O’Neill, I think I read this book first, and then continued with Asking for It. There are a few different covers of this book, and there are two distinctive things about them. One, they’re pretty much all illustrated covers, and two, they almost all feature something humanoid that isn’t altogether real or living.
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If you don’t know, I love an illustrated cover. I suppose it could have been a photo, but I don’t think so. Anyway, the cover is sharp, dark, and conveys the tone and the feeling of the book well. Immediately, you know there’s not going to be a happily ever after. And if you have read Asking for It, you know it’s not.
it’s a little hard to place what exactly is on the cover. Is it an AI, a doll, a statue? The term mannequin comes to mind and seems to fit better than the other. But I don’t think the significance of the using dolls on the cover is lost on anyone—Historically and culturally, society has always associated dolls with perfection. Dolls are playthings, items for people to use as they will and discard as they please. In the same way, the girls in the book were not real people, they didn’t have the right to choose. They were just there to look conventionally attractive and conform to western beauty standards; and to be bread (as in reproducing, not the warm fluffy loaves). They weren’t expected to do anything other than what the society in the book wanted. Similarly, mannequins literally have no other reason other than to stand there and model clothing—they’re there to make the clothing look more attractive and to make the package “look complete”. In the book, it’s the exact same reason the girls are there. They’re there as accessories to the boys whom society wants to succeed and decided were important—they don’t have any other reason to exist than to “complete” the picture of the nuclear family.
They were easily replaced—demonstrated when frieda was replaced and discarded (literally and figuratively) after she displeased the “most important boy” who’s name, ironically, escapes me. There are so many little indications of the absence of freedom of choice and lack of value assigned to women. Similar to The Handmaid’s Tale, names are significant in Only Ever Yours. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the women are all given names relative to the man they are serving at the time. Offred indicates this by saying there use to be a previous Offred. In Only Ever Yours the girl’s names are ever capitalized, they’re always lower case.
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There’s something else unique about this cover that makes it a little different than the other covers for Only Ever Yours. In this cover, there isn’t just one being but many, implying the line stretches on and one with no foreseeable end. I think this is an extremely important homage to the story and where the majority of the book takes place. It almost gives the effect of a factory, which is pretty much what the institution the girls are in is. They’re trained there to be charming and look nice, to learn “proper” etiquette and look nice. And they’re all trained to have these things in common, almost like a factory creating a product. I think that’s why I like this cover just a little bit more than the others I’ve seen.
In any case, tell me about a recent book cover you really love! This isn’t a new one, but it’s certainly one I love and keep going back to.