Does it bother you when a character is shown on the cover of a novel?
I feel like it steals my imagination before I can create an image of the character myself.
I recently saw a book trailer for The Sky is Everywhere, and I found myself thinking
DON'T show them, DON'T show them, PLEASE DON'T ruin them for me
the whole time.
I feel that in this trailer they purposely keep things fuzzy and they do not try to nail down the image of the main characters. Which works for me, even if it feels a little contrived.
I also find that sometimes while reading a character stays a little blurry in my head, and when I think about it, I like it. I just read Shiver, and after putting down the book I tried to "see" the main characters Grace and Sam. While I had a hint of each, I can't say I really defined them fully in my head.
Here are some books I read recently where I didn't like to see the characters on the cover:
This is my Mary now, and I don't think I would have imagined her this way if there was another option. My Mary's hair and makeup are not that perfect. I also take issue with her clothes on this cover. To me it looks a little like a storebought Banana Republic sweater, not the kind of homespun knitting or clothing I would imagine in this world.
I found myself flipping to the cover while reading and thinking,
Okay, post-apocalyptic zombie reality I accept, but where did she get that sweater???
I also feel a little cheated that I didn't get to imagine Mary by myself at all.
Paper Towns. This is not my Margo Roth Spiegelman. She just didn't seem exactly like this to me. Maybe because it's difficult for one photo to encapsulate this troubled, complex character. She looks mischievous here and rebellious, but I don't think her darker side is captured at all in this photo.
For what it's worth, here are some that don't bother me as much:
The DUFF-- Haven't read it yet, but I like that you get a hint of the character, but not the whole she-bang. It's a sassy glimpse of Bianca, with the eyeshadow and the bubble gum, without giving away too much.
Dirty Little Secrets-- this image works for me. I may not have imagined Lucy exactly like this, but something about the image is authentic to the tone and the scope of the book.
Perfect Chemistry. Again, My Alex and my Brittany are slightly different, but this is such a great photo it doesn't ruin it for me. I like that you get a sense of the tenderness of their relationship-- maybe that's why.
After reading Sarah Enni's delightful treatise on The Katniss Problem I find myself so happy that Suzanne Collins never put a cover model on her books. Though due to Sarah's post I now think of Tania Raymonde as Katniss when I read. Which is okay for me.
When I glance over this list I wonder what the real difference is between the ones I like and the ones I don't. I think the context makes it or breaks it for me. If Mary's clothes/hair/makeup matched the world more I might not mind it, and if Margo looked less like a model and more like a character, I think it would work better for me.
That's my quick and dirty analysis.
So what about you???
Do you like it when the characters are shown on the cover? What are some covers that worked for you, or some that didn't??