Monday, January 31, 2011

Cover Review (11): XVI

Cover Crazy is a weekly meme hosted by Tawni at The Book Worms where a beautiful cover is featured each week for all of us to admire. I am going to use my Cover Crazy posts as an opportunity to review a book cover I love or review any cover (even the ones I don't love). This week's Cover Crazy is for a cover I really don't love for a book I haven't read:


Does anyone  actually refer to this book as “Sixteen”?

I’ve never called this book anything but “ex-vee-eye” and I don’t think I’ll ever think of it as “Sixteen.” Was that the intention? Am I doing what I’m supposed to do, or did the publisher/author intend us to call this book Sixteen?

Honestly, though, if I didn’t already know the title, I think I’d probably look at this cover and be really confused. It would take me an embarrassingly long time to realize those cut outs were roman numerals and not just random slashes on the cover. I might even think the title was “Julia Karr” and wonder who the author was. As far as clarity is concerned, this cover gets a fail from me.  

Then there’s the girl. She doesn’t really stand out for me in any way. She doesn’t glitter. She isn’t wearing a pretty dress. Her hair isn’t flowing beautifully. There are no pretty colors here to grab my attention. Eh, I’m disinterested. Shallow? Sure, I won’t deny that. But I’m still not picking up the book based on the cover.

She does look tough. I’ll give her that. She looks like a girl I don’t want to mess with. Looking out through those slashes makes me think she’s looking out through prison bars, which ups her tough-quotient considerably. It also makes me wonder about the nature of her prison. But…this isn’t tough in the “Woah, she’s kickass!” kind of way. This girl looks tough in a slightly annoying “girl with attitude” roll-your-eyes kind of way. Do I really want to read her story? I’m thinking no.

Those are my initial impressions. Looking a little deeper and in conjunction with the blurb, I start to gain a little more appreciation for the cover. Here’s the blurb (from Goodreads):

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear.
That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

Ok, so now I know what the XVI stands for and I see that while the tattoo may be small and on her wrist, its presence really defines her entire being in this society. It makes a lot more sense now that the XVI takes up the entire cover and is plastered over the girl’s face. Those numbers redefine her entire world and supersede every aspect of her life. In a very real way, she is a prisoner of the numbers.

Based on the blurb and knowing this is a dystopian, I’m guessing this girl isn’t going to take her branding sitting down. I imagine she’s going to fight, and so that tough girl look is a lot more attractive. I like my dystopian heroines to kick butt.

The tagline also makes a lot more sense now. What an understatement it is! Innocence really does end at age sixteen if these girls are being turned into sex chattel. The idea is horrific for anyone, but the emphasis on the word “sixteen” underscores the idea that sixteen is a shockingly young age for this sort of thing to happen. I imagine it also speaks to sixteen year olds looking at the book, drawing a bright red connection to their own experiences.

It also might help connect the dots about the title for people like me (XVI, huh??)…

I appreciate the cover a lot more now that I’ve read the blurb. But, I’m not drawn to reading it. I’m still shallow and it still turns me off.


What do you think about this cover? 
Do you like it? Dislike it? 
Does it make you want to read the book?

Interested in covers? 
Be sure to check out another Cover Crazy post by Gina from My Precious. 


Previous Cover Crazy posts:
More of my Cover Crazy posts. 


  1. I agree, the cover does turn me off a bit, and if I saw it in a bookstore I probably wouldn't pick it up. The cover of XVI seems a bit too hard-core for my liking, but now that I know what it is about, I might not be so quick to judge. I hope to read this book, and I have read many mixed reviews about it.

  2. This cover doesn't do it for me either. I would have had no idea what it might be about if I hadn't read the summary.

  3. Agreed the cover is NOT attractive what-so-ever. I don't like it at all. I'm reading this one right now, and its really good so far. Your analysis is spot on - great job.

    One thing you didn't mention is the image of the girl behind XVI is blurry. Is this because she really doesn't know who she really is?

  4. I've known Roman Numerals since I was 6 and in first grade, and I use them constantly (in Spanish, we use them to denote centuries) and I still didn't get what they were when I first saw the cover.

    And there is something about the photo in the back that looks off.

    But the blurb is kind of interesting.

  5. I actually really liked the cover, but it might be because when I saw it in the bookstore, it was on it's side, and the first thing I saw was XVI written on the spine, and then I read the blurb right away, so it all made more sense.
    But, this is going to be weird, but it kind of looks like her eyes are somewhat crossed to me. Hahah, that might just be me :P

  6. I love this book cover. I don't know why, but the "XVI" stood out to me right away. I guess I'm in the minority for that one.
    I've been calling it ex-vee-eye as well!
    I like her smokey eye make-up and tough expression - it tells me that this is a dystopian novel, for sure.

  7. I call it ex-vee-eye too. I can't say I particularly like the cover. I can see the XVI but if I hadn't read reviews on it before it's release I probably wouldn't have bought it myself. It's not one that I pick up time and time again just to look at the cover that's for sure.

  8. I actually DO like this cover, but you raise valid points! Haha, never thought of it that way!

    -Linds, bibliophile brouhaha

  9. TB, Doesn’t it look hard-core? Totally perfect way to describe it.

    Aylee, I actually thought it was a contemp until I read the tagline and blurb.

    Gina, You are awesome! You always point out things in covers I would have completely missed otherwise. I love hearing your cover comments.

    Alex, Haha, good. I feel like less of a dope. :P

    Maggie, Oh, I can see how seeing the spine first would help a lot. Ah haha, now that I look at the cover you’re right! Her eyes do look a little crossed. I think it’s the black cutout near the right side of the cover cutting over her eye. It makes it look like her iris/pupil is further to the center of her face than it is. Nice catch!

    Madigan, I have to admit, I’m a little in awe of your ability to catch that XVI on the cover right away. When I finally saw it I had to smack myself on the head for missing it for so long. :P

    The Slowest Bookworm, I love your last sentence. I do that all the time with pretty book covers. This one isn’t bad, but you’re right, it’s not one I would spend time just looking at.

  10. Linds, You're not alone! Did you catch the XVI right away or know about the plot first? It seems that helps with liking the cover more.

  11. I've read a lot of reviews of this book, and only recently did I hear it referred to as "Sixteen." I thought, "huh???" It never occurred to me to call it that, even though I know the premise.

    I do want to read this, though.


  12. Great cover critique!

    I have never liked this cover either. It's totally unappealing to me, I'm afraid. I always refer to this book as “ex-vee-eye” too. I wonder if we are meant to be calling it "sixteen"?!

  13. I don't know what drew me to this book and I'm not even sure I've read any reviews of it and I hate dystopian novels (I'm trying not to) but I am drawn to this book inexplicably. I'm not expecting a love story. I'm expecting a hard edgy novel and I knew the title the first time I looked at it so I didn't have to figure out XVI. I am dying to read this book, maybe because I hate a male ruled world where a woman's rights are secondary and I want her to win. I want her to fight. Sometimes a book speaks to you so personally, that you have to read it. This one speaks to me, personally.


  14. I do want to read this based on the summary but the cover definitely doesn't appeal. I think what bothers me most is how the girl is sort of blurry? It makes me think that the image is low res but that's how it is!

  15. You make good points, but I love this cover! I am like Madigan - I saw the cutout right away, but I'm pretty good at spotting that kind of thing. The blurriness of the photo bothered me more than her generic looks, and I thought the tagline set up that this is a dark futuristic tale, so it matched her "look." Just me, though!

  16. Interesting cover, but it doesn't make me want to pick it up unless it was a library book.

    Thanks for hoppin by my blog today, btw! Glad to know another Pendragon fan! I think one of the fun things about fantasy casts is thinking not only about the physical description in the book but all the elements, including personality, acting, marketability and how they fit in with the other group of actors chosen. (A bit obsessive as I am no where near getting into that portion of the entertainment industry yet, but I can't help it!) Anywho, thanks for hopping by!

  17. Holy crow! That cover is spectacular! I didn't even notice the roman numerals in it until I read your notes! I only noticed the black jagged pieces and the girl. Nice choice!!

    Here is our Cover Crazy! (It's our first!!)

  18. I really don't care for this cover. I don't know what it is. Like you, I like when the dystopian characters kick butt. For example, Katniss Everdeen! However, XVI wasn't fore me. It didn't exceed my expectations.

  19. Annette, haha, me too! Even knowing the plot I was thinking, “Sixteen? No, Ex Vee Eye”

    Leanna, Thanks! I’m now really curious to know what the author/publisher’s intent is with this title.

    Heather, I’m expecting a hard, edgy book too based on the cover. The cover and premise don’t make it seem like the typical fluffy love story. Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood? It sounds like the type of dystopian you might like.

    Laura, You’re right, I agree about the blurry imaging making this seem low-res. It makes me think the book isn’t polished or from a major publisher.

    Logan, Good eye! I do agree, the combination of her tough image and the tagline is appealing. I dislike weak characters in dystopians, but this girl doesn’t seem weak at all.

    Brooke, That’s true, this is an interesting cover, but I don’t find it attractive. I guess I am more likely to pick up a pretty cover than an interesting one. :) IDefinitely agree about what you said about casting. Not obsessive at all, just very interesting! It’s a whole process and all of the little pieces need to fit together just so.

    JaevenStar, Thanks! It’s good to see all these people who only saw black jagged lines like I did :P

    Julie, I haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, but I’m so looking forward to it based on everything I’ve heard about Katniss. She sounds like my kind of character. Too bad about your experience with XVI.

  20. Brilliant critiique! I've seen this book around the blogosphere a lot recently but like you, I never actually realised the slashes were roman numerals. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one. Amongst the stunning and beauitful YA covers that keep coming, this one just wouldn't stand out to me. Some people might see it as a powerful message but I find it too unappealing, I have a feeling it might be one of those covers that looks a lot better in real life though.

  21. I honestly just think this cover is somewhat boring at first glance. I suppose if I had read the book I might think differently.

    Reading Lark's Cover Crazy

  22. Stephanie, Hehe I'm glad to know I'm not the only one too :) That's a good point about how this cover stands out (or not) among all the other YA books. So many are so pretty and this one...isn't. I am curious now to see what it looks like in person.

    Andrea, I agree, it does look pretty boring. I did gain a greater appreciation for it after reading the synopsis, so I think you're right that reading the book might improve the cover.


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