This week on The Page Half Full, I have a blog post about what’s trending in YA in libraries. Here, I’m going to talk about the cover trends I’m seeing. We’re well beyond the trends of big dresses and cut-off heads. Here are six trends I’m seeing in YA books with 2019 release dates.
1. Drawings of people
Up until recently, most YA novels that featured images of the characters used photographs (unless we’re talking about fantasy, but that’s a whole different style of artwork depicting people). There are a few different styles here under the label “drawings” – a detailed pen and ink style (see Tin Heart and Her Royal Highness), a color-blocked style (see Watch Us Rise and On the Come Up), and a hybrid of the two (see the bottom row).
More interesting is the fact that most of the books using drawings of people on the cover are diverse books. Last year, I saw a lot of great diverse books coming out with covers using photographs. I’m not sure if there is a significance to this. There are fewer overall books with photographs on the cover, with a notable exception, which I’ll talk about next.
- The Love and Lies of Ruksana Ali by Sabina Kahn (1/29/19)
- On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (2/5/19)
- Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan (2/12/19)
- The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg (2/26/19)
- The Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds (3/5/19)
- Tin Heart by Shivaun Plozza (3/12/19)
- Internment by Samira Ahmed (3/19/19)
- The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston (4/2/19)
- Again But Better by Christine Riccio (5/7/19)
- Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins (5/7/19)
- Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju (5/7/19)
- I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver (5/14/19)
- Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra (5/21/19)
- Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson (5/21/19)
- This Time Things Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura (6/4/19)
- Color Me In by Natasha Diaz (8/20/19)
2. Photographs with handwritten lettering
a.k.a. the Official Teen Romance Cover. Seriously. Look at all these:
This is the only cover trend I noticed that used photographs. I’m not sure how this became the standard teen romance cover, but it’s been around for longer than the first half of 2019. One thing I am noticing is more diversity. There’s a cover with an Indian girl (There’s Something About Sweetie), a Muslim girl (Love from A to Z, which also features disability rep with a character who has multiple sclerosis), a lesbian couple (Tell Me How You Really Feel), and a Latina girl (Don’t Date Rosa Santos).
- Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry (1/22/19)
- Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West (2/5/19)
- You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn (4/2/19)
- Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett (4/16/19)
- If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (4/23/19)
- Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali (4/30/19)
- Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno (5/14/19)
- There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon (5/14/19)
- Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi (6/11/19)
- Maybe This Time by Kasie West (7/9/19)
3. Ornate crests
One of the most ubiquitous cover trends in fantasy novels right now is the cover featuring an ornate crest (or intricate design, not all of these are crests).
When you put them all together in a collage like this, you can really see how similar these covers are, even though they are all different. Lots of curlicues and ornate fonts, the title centered on the book. Most of these books are fantasy, though some are more historical although even these often have a fantastical element.
- Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (1/15/19)
- Firestarter by Tara Sim (1/15/19)
- King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (1/29/19)
- The Antidote by Shelley Sackier (2/5/19)
- Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer (2/15/19)
- We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia (2/26/19)
- Nocturna by Maya Montayne (5/7/19)
- Romanov by Nadine Brandes (5/7/19)
- Emmie and the Tudor King by Natalie Murray (6/11/19)
4. Swords (and other weapons)
Given the abundance of YA fantasy being published, you can’t expect ALL of the covers to be ornate crests.
Warrior of the Wild and Shadow Frost get bonus points for not being swords (you can’t see in the collage, but Shadow Frost has an arrow). Some of these swords are hard to detect – I almost missed Dark Shores. And some of these covers almost fit in with the ornate crest covers. The sword covers don’t just have a weapon on the cover, the weapon is always vertical and centered.
- Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers (2/5/19)
- Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (3/26/19)
- Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller (3/26/19)
- Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen (5/7/19)
- Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa (6/25/19)
- Vow of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson (8/6/19)
- Shadow Frost by Coco Ma (10/1/19)
A close runner-up to sword covers are the crown covers.
A few of these could fit into other categories – I almost mistook Kingsbane as a sword cover, but it’s actually a sceptre. And Five Dark Fates could fit in with the crest covers, but I figured we had enough of those.
- Wicked King by Holly Black (1/8/19)
- Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte (2/26/19)
- Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard (5/7/19)
- Kingsbane by Claire Legrand (5/21/19)
- Traitor’s Kingdom by Erin Beaty (7/9/19)
- Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake (9/3/19)
6. Creepy Trees
Now that we’ve gone through all the fantasy cover trends, we can move onto other genres! This particular cover trend is one I love, because there’s nothing creepier than a dark forest.
Of course, some of these novels are also fantasy, but who’s counting? These covers have the ornate quality of the crest covers. They’re also all in shades of silver and blue.
- A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (1/29/19)
- Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees (3/12/19)
- Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith (3/12/19)
- The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman (4/2/19)
- Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw (11/5/19)
These are the six trends I’ve noticed in YA covers so far this year. Most of the release dates on the above books are spring 2019, but a few are fall. As the fall 2019 covers are unveiled, I’ll be putting out part 2!
Also, in case you missed it, check out my blog post on The Page Half Full, where I talk about what’s trending in libraries!