Uncovering YA Sci-Novels: Let the Judging Begin

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They say never judge a book by its cover.

But, how often do we as readers do this?
More often than not, I find the novel covers at Barnes and Noble trying to catch my eyes. Symbols and insignia on covers that relate to the hero or heroine’s rebellion, or CGI covers of another world. However, if there is a girl involved, most of the time she’s in elaborate clothing, staring off into the distance. Or, better yet, she’s staring at the reader, back turned in a classic model pose. For instance, I’m currently reading The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent; the girl is in Steampunk (think Victorian) style, with an even more industrial London (there’s a steam tower jutting out of Big Ben). However, the model either is CGI or actually Zendaya from Disney; it’s jarring to see her sexualized and photoshopped in this way.

Blurbs and quotes are often reviews of acclaimed writers, usually in the same genre, praising the book, or summarizing it in a jam-packed sentence. However, Turning to the readers’ reviews can reveal a different story.

I thoroughly enjoyed  reading The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, don’t get me wrong.  However, looking at reader reviews on Amazon have the audience torn between two sides. Either the story was amazing, compelling, terrifying. Yet sprinkled to make up a decent minority are readers who are not enthused. Most claim it’s a generic sci-fi novel, with no innovation or originality. Most of the readers who didn’t enjoy the novel were either fooled by the blurbs or covers and thought something else, or participated in reading clubs for discussions. Two sides of the same coin, in some instances.

In conclusion, maybe book stores should wrap books up like some small local stores do. I think it’s called having “a blind date with a book”. They’ll wrap in brown paper, write in sharpie the main points, such as “science fiction, space opera, minor romantic arc, award-winning novel” and let the readers decide for themselves.

So, best to not judge a book by its cover. Or blurbs. Or synopsis on the inside of the cover, either, in some cases. Just trust your gut.

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