So our cover designer is back on more familiar ground. Standing and facing away from the camera is no fainting tuberculosis victim on the riverbank, but at least it’s relatively passive.
I actually like this sequence of covers because you can really see exactly the moment they scream and go OH GOD HOW DOES THIS WORK. It was scary for a bit in the middle there, wasn’t it? How girl do things? Thank god it’s over and we’re back to women being passive objects of mystery.
I expect people would argue this is a strong cover, showing she’s successfully broken free of the bubble, but that isn’t what it looks like to me. It looks kind of like hatching from an egg, with the newborn wandering away from the shell just because that’s what you do next. She’s turned away, which makes this seem more like she’s dazed and a victim than triumphant and accomplished. Someone proud of what they’ve done should be facing the camera, defiant and proud, looking out for anyone who thinks they can stuff her back in there.
Looking at this I get the sense she doesn’t really know what to do, and the strongest interpretation I can get is she’s overcome something bad and is now walking away from it into an uncertain future, which has its place but is not exactly triumph, and looks downright bad given she was actively breaking free last book. There is, in sum, no sense she’s won here.
And while I suppose you could say that the cover is supposed to be the hook, so she’s not supposed to have won yet…there’s no sense of winning coming up as a possibility. She’s overcome the bubble and is wandering out into the empty void of a world. It feels like a melancholy ending. Those too have their place, but so does drowning, and it doesn’t change the fact this does not seem like anything other than business as usual in YA land.
If the first book is her trapped in the bubble and the second her punching a hole in it, a suitable third would have been the bubble exploding outward as she finally stood up. Instead we avoid the moment when she’s active and only check back after all the debris is gone, so there’s no evidence of how it happened or assertiveness shown. Maybe someone else broke her out instead and then left. Anything but showing she did it herself.
At any rate.
This is not exactly a good book, but the first half of it is actually decent, if kicking Cassia to the side in the process. She’s not as passive an object as some of the really terrible YA I’ve been seeing, but this is not really the story of Cassia changing stuff so much as wandering around and sometimes having an impact on the plot. So…the cover is pretty accurate to the plot. It has that in its favor. It really only looks bad as an ending book, when one starts asking questions like “Why is Cassia good enough to carry the book when it’s about romance but when it’s a rebellion most of it has to be about how special and vital her boyfriends are?” (more…)