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!
Buckle up friends. It’s time for the one, the only. Arguably the book that began to put YA on the map (I’m not trying to discredit the YA books that came before, but I really think Twilight was a landmark book—no matter how you feel about it it had a huge impact on the book world and the world in general). Today, I’m going to talk about why the cover of Twilight is actually really amazing. I’m not going to talk about whether I think it’s a good book or not, or any of the problematic elements in the book; or about whether I think Bella is a good role model for girls; or if Edward is romantic or creepy; OR if it’s fall into fantasy and just enjoy it or steer clear it’s too far gone. No, we’re not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk solely on how symbolic the cover is and why this cover is actually amazing despite how much people love to hate the contents.
This will be a fairly straightforward analysis, but suffice it to say the most forefront, nay, the ONLY element on the cover is the apple and the two hands holding it. Its very intentional homage to Eve in the Garden of Eden is no mistake. When we consider all the (not so) subtle religious undertones and the background of the author (member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) it absolutely makes sense for the cover to reflect that as well. If you are familiar with Mormon theology and terminology (“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb” “And then we continued blissfully into this small but perfect piece of our forever” etc.—I could come up with numerous other examples if you ask me) it 100 percent makes sense.
Anyway, back to the forbidden fruit (fun fact: no one can confirm what kind of fruit it was), there’s no doubt this is intricate to every aspect of the book. Bella is, in fact, a metaphor for Eve and her transition out of the Garden of Eden. Bella sees vampirism (?) as the ticket to a better life, a way out of the plain, mediocre life she has been given. She always feels like there’s more to Edward’s world than the “normal human world” and constantly notes how right she feels with him and how “out of place” she’s always felt among humans. The apple is obviously a foreshadowing that she’ll eventually become a vampire, but it also draws a strict parallel to the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden was a “safe” place for Eve. She didn’t have to worry about the primitive dangers early humans had to worry about, like getting eaten (which ironically Bella does have to worry about). Bella’s world becomes increasingly dangerous the more time she spends with Edward from the first book when she is nearly killed by James, to the last book when the entire vampire royalty coming after her and her small family (honestly the Volturi probably had nothing better to do than harass the Cullens).
But not only was Eve safe in the Garden, she also lived ignorantly of any knowledge or the difference between good and evil. Essentially, it’s only after she partakes of the fruit does her life have more meaning. Before Eve did not know happiness or sadness, she merely existed. Which is often how Bella describes her life with Edward. Like nothing else mattered into her life before Edward. And in the end, that is what her life ends up becoming in the next two years (she meets him as a junior?). Meeting Edward and deciding to pursue a relationship with him and then becoming a vampire made it clear she choose him and his world and left the old “bland” one behind.
You might like: Cover Assessment: The Handmaid’s Tale
The two hands holding the apple implies a choice, but also an offering for both Bella and Edward. It’s kind of poetic because both Bella and Edward are at the same time being offered a choice, and offering a choice. Bella can “take” the apple and accept the knowledge and type of life that comes with knowing/being a vampire, and she can offer Edward: love, a child, and all the things that are associated with those things. In contrast, Edward can accept Bella’s love and the risks that come with associating her and loving her—but because of the way the book is written and framed, he’s also offering her a “more” full eternal life—full of all the things eternal life comes with: like hundreds of graduation caps and also reliving high school in a never-ending loop.
Lastly, and this is a smaller portion of the cover, but the color of the red apple and white hands also represents the contrast between white and red and its role as a major theme in the book—and this is one Meyer never allows the reader forget. It’s an obvious choice given vampires and blood, but it also represents “sin” for both Edward and Bella. Sin for Edward to involve himself in Bella’s life, and sin for Bella to put herself in danger. Edward frequently views Bella as a “sin”; something he shouldn’t ever indulge in and this opinion of himself and their relationships affects every action and decision in the book. Sentences like “You really should stay away from me”, “I said it would be better if we weren’t friends, not that I didn’t want to be”, and “Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin” are peppered throughout the book. And even though the red and white could represent a vast array of things, the stark contrast between white and red best represents temptation and the decisions to resist temptation and give into it. We mostly see Edward fight temptation and give into it in Twilight. But you could argue that the entire series is about Bella and Edward’s ability to fight temptation. This whole series is a romance book, but I would say one of the huge over-arching themes in all the books is resisting the temptation. Resisting the temptation to be with someone you think you aren’t matched with; resisting what you most want in the world; resisting pre-marital sex (yes, this was definitely treated as something bad). I mean, with that last being an exception, the entire series they just give in to their temptations, so do with that what you will—I didn’t say they were perfect did I?
Anyway, all jokes aside, this is a really fantastic book cover. I’m a huge fan of illustrated book covers: I don’t lean towards photography as much, but this one is really well thought out. So simple, and yet perfect for the book.
Let me know what you think! Do you think Twilight had a good book cover? Or do you think I’m reading too much into this?