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Top 20 Youth Novel Covers 2017

The usual caveats: I am an individual human being with my own tastes, often inscrutable to even myself; I probably saw 80 zillion book covers this year and forgot 70 zillion of them; I didn’t have the time or wherewithal to figure out the artists and designers. Look, I did my best! Enjoy. (I’ve listed the titles in alphabetical order and linked them to their Booklist reviews.)



The Arsonist, by Stephanie Oakes (Dial)

Half-head, half-fire? This shouldn’t work, but it does. That’s good design.


Bad Romance, by Heather Demetrios (Holt)

Possibly my favorite cover of the year. Beautiful spoil, which is thematically on point.


Bone Jack, by Sara Crow (Philomel)

This antler / thorn / forest hybrid looks like a band poster that belongs on someone’s wall.


Bull, by David Elliott (HMH)

Descriptive test on covers often has a chintzy movie-poster effect, but this cleverly makes the text the whole point.


The Careful Undressing of Love, by Corey Ann Haydu (Dutton)

Busy in the best way, like a detail of a classic painting hiding even further details: literally, a key.


Devil in Ohio, by Daria Polatin (Feiwel)

With echoes of a dozen iconic horror-movie images, this gets me going, man.


Done Dirt Cheap, by Sarah Nicole Lemon (Amulet)

The combination of tawdry, leather-jacket imagery, plus modern typeface, equals something strangely satisfying.


Dreaming the Bear, by Mimi Thebo (Wendy Lamb)

There’s something so soft and entrancing—and yet still dangerous—about this understated image.


Gem & Dixie, by Sara Zarr (Balzer + Bray)

An evocative photo that recalls twins, yin/yang, butterflies, and who knows what else.


The House of Months and Years, by Emma Trevayne (Simon & Schuster)

The way the image has been miniaturized within the cover turns this into an ornamental wonder.


Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story, by Sonia Patel (Cinco Puntos)

This is so wonderfully specific! This couldn’t be the cover of anything else, and I love that.


Landscape with Invisible Hand, by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick)

The old-fashioned, painterly brush-strokes contrast humorously with the UFO.


Piecing Me Together, by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury)

A perfect collage that, by its very layering, gives a sense of crowdedness and clamor.


Spurt, by Chris Miles (Simon & Schuster)

Admirable minimalism.


The Stars beneath Our Feet, by David Barclay Moore (Knopf)

City? Stars? Legos? Browsers won’t know what it means, but it’s a startling juxtaposition.


This Tiny Perfect World, by Lauren Gibaldi (Harper)

There’s a roughness to this that appeals to me, like I’ve just opened a young artist’s casual sketchbook.



Warcross, by Marie Lu (Putnam)

Confession: I’m not sure I love this. But it’s just so wildly different that I can’t stop examining it.


When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon (Simon Pulse)

This is simply the most joyful, infectious cover of the year.


Wildman, by J. C. Geiger (Hyperion)

A beautiful exercise in trusting your audience, this feels like a random snippet of a comic-strip frame.


We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour (Dutton)

This quiet mix of realism and wonder is the perfect image for a book that suggests no easy images.



About the Author:

Dan Kraus was Booklist's Editor of Books for Youth. He is also the producer and director of numerous feature films, most notably the documentary Work Series, and the author of several YA novels, including Rotters and Scowler, both of which won the Odyssey Award. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielDKraus.

1 Comment on "Top 20 Youth Novel Covers 2017"

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  1. Bill Ott says:

    I’m thrilled that two images I chose for Booklist covers made Dan’s top 20 list. Suddenly I feel hipper than I’ve felt in decades.

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