The Cover Wars

Answering the question asked by readers of All the Birds in the Sky: what happened to Patricia’s cat?

Janet: This is such an awesome cover I went to Tor and read this short story even though I’d never heard of All the Birds in the Sky. Which might, now, have to go on my tbr list. It is so neat how the art style manages to make the cat look like a cat (and a woman) and also like a stone statuette. The colours give a reassuring old-timey, magic-laden feel.

Jane: Oh, what an interesting visual effect! I haven’t read All the Birds in the Sky, though, so that back copy is quite the mystery to me. The cover reminds me a bit of Japanese artwork. Not sure if I want to read this, though, this I don’t feel that the description has really told me anything about it!

Nafiza: I *HAVE* read All the Birds in the Sky and now I must find out what happened to Patricia’s cat. This is so lovely.

A brilliant young physicist, alone on a Pacific atoll during World War II, begins to chronicle the laws of motion that govern her dreams.

Janet: This is another Tor story, isn’t it. The cover is pretty neat, all humans-are-made-of-stories and books and change. I don’t understand the title, but this looks like an interesting read. Science + dreams.

Jane: What a strange and beautiful cover!

Nafiza: I think we can all agree that Tor.com has the best covers ever. I want to read this tale too.

Ava’s plan for surviving senior year at her new school is simple: fly under the radar until graduation. No boys. No attachments. No drama. But all that goes out the window when she gets drafted into the Prom Bowl—a long-standing tradition where senior girls compete in challenges and are auctioned off as prom dates to the highest bidder.

Ava joins forces with star quarterback Mark Palmer to try and get herself out of the competition, but their best laid schemes lead to self-sabotage more than anything else. And to make matters worse, they both begin to realize that the Prom Bowl isn’t all fun and games. When one event spirals dangerously out of control, Ava and Mark must decide whether shutting down the Prom Bowl once and for all is worth the price of sacrificing their futures.

Janet: What semi-modern American hell is this? Girls being auctioned off? That’s disgusting and wow, slavery. I can’t tell whether this is meant to be contemporary fic or dystopian or what. Which makes me worry that the story isn’t a cold and intentional look at femininity and presentation/perceived worth/girls as chattel (the whole auction thing? is a deliberate reference to slavery, yes?) in American high schools. This could be really good (feminism, anti-draft/anti-war, anti-slavery), but the presentation of this story, especially the tagline, leave too many ifs.

Jane: WHAT?!?! Is this ” Prom Bowl” an actual thing?!?! You’ve got to be kidding me. This is pretty horrific. Ummmm…”Prom Bowl” isn’t all fun and games” – where’s the fun in this?!? UGH. Like Janet mentioned, this could work if it was about dismantling a sexist tradition, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. Yikes. No thank you.

Nafiza: Jane and Janet have said everything I want to but is this actually a real thing? Like girls getting auctioned off? Does this really happen? I’m freaked out. I hope this is a feminist text because otherwise it should be in the horror section. O.O

In 1960s Texas, a white family from a notoriously racist neighborhood and a black family from its poorest ward cross Houston’s color line, overcoming humiliation, degradation, and violence to win the freedom of five black college students unjustly charged with the murder of a policeman.

The Silence of Our Friends draws from the childhood of Mark Long, who, with co-author Jim Demonakos, has created a powerful portrait of a volatile moment in US history. With art from the brilliant Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole) bringing the tale to heart-wrenching life, The Silence of Our Friends is a new and important entry in the body of civil rights literature.

Janet: Title, cover, and back copy conspire: this might be almost as heart-wrenching as March, but there is no way I’m not reading this.

Jane: Powerful and timely. This sounds like just the sort of story we need – regular, everyday people doing what they can to make a difference and fight injustice. The graphic novel format is highly accessible.

Nafiza: What Janet said. The title alone is so sonorous.

Matthew Corbin suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He hasn’t been to school in weeks. His hands are cracked and bleeding from cleaning. He refuses to leave his bedroom. To pass the time, he observes his neighbors from his bedroom window, making mundane notes about their habits as they bustle about the cul-de-sac.

When a toddler staying next door goes missing, it becomes apparent that Matthew was the last person to see him alive. Suddenly, Matthew finds himself at the center of a high-stakes mystery, and every one of his neighbors is a suspect. Matthew is the key to figuring out what happened and potentially saving a child’s life… but is he able to do so if it means exposing his own secrets, and stepping out from the safety of his home?

Janet: The cover isn’t exciting, and the tagline is terrible for more than one reason. The back copy feels situation- rather than character-driven, and almost exoticizes the illness. Much as I would like to read another MG story featuring a protagonist with OCD (the only other I’ve come across is the #ownvoices OCDaniel by Wesley King), I’ll wait for reviews from readers with this diagnosis.

Jane: Huh, it sounds like a MG “Rear Window”. I always approach stories about mental illness with some trepidation – mental illness isn’t a “quirk”, or something that makes a character “eccentric”, and it really is difficult to fully capture the reality of living with mental illness unless you’ve experienced it, or perhaps have cared for someone who has. If done well this could be an inspiring story for young readers with OCD, providing them with a character who makes a difference because of his OCD, rather than in spite of it. I don’t know anything about the author, so she might have OCD or perhaps has a child who does, so I’ll wait and see what others think.

Nafiza: I agree with the others. The cover isn’t terribly exciting and the tagline is simply terrible. The back copy is interesting but I am worried about how OCD is approached. I shall wait for some reviews before I take the plunge.

Thirteen-year-old Lucia Frank discovers that she can become the girl she’s always wanted to be with the help of a little “moon magic” in this charming novel about the value of friendship, family, and finding yourself.

Lucia Frank has never had time for her mom’s “new age” nonsense. She doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. All she wants is to figure out how to get her best friend, Will, back and cope with her parents looming divorce. But then something strange happens on the night of her thirteenth birthday.

When the eclipsed moon slips into the shadow of the earth, Lucia’s Shadow slips out. Now hidden in a moonstone, the Shadow waits for Lucia to sleep so it can come out to play.

Lucia’s Shadow seems unlike her in almost every way: daring, outspoken, and unwilling to let anyone push her around. But it actually isn’t the anti-Lucia…in fact, her Shadow is very much like the person Lucia wishes she could be. At first, Lucia is eager to undo whatever magic happened on her birthday so life can get back to normal. But when she realizes her Shadow is doing and saying things she has only dreamed about, she wonders if maybe things aren’t all bad.

With a little help from her Shadow, she’s turning into the kind of girl she’s always wanted to be.

Janet: The cover is super cute. My usual complaint stands – why would you draw the characters in so strongly a romance-coded, YAesque pose when they are like 13? – but the art is just lovely. The back copy, unfortunately, says entirely too much. The story sounds like fun, but spilling quite this level of detail removes the impetus to read it.

Jane: As an awkward child with crippling social anxiety, this sounds like something that would have appealed to younger me. Imagine being able to turn yourself into someone else – someone who’s brave and cool, who knows just what to say and do! I like that the shadow character isn’t her evil alter-ego who she has to defeat – that’s been done before. The premise sounds very appealing. I definitely agree with Janet, it does sound like it’s giving just a bit too much away in the back copy, though.

Nafiza: I adore this cover. I don’t see the pose as romantic though. I see it as friendly. It does make me wonder though. The friend is mentioned once but is present on the cover. I wish they had drawn Lucia with her shadow instead. How cool would that have been? Unless that is her shadow? Hmm. I like the back copy but I wish they’d been a little less detailed with it. Still, I want to read this. I think it will be super cute.