Can we appreciate these beautiful YA book covers?

I don’t know who coined the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but uh … we all know we do it.


If you had to choose the best YA book covers, which ones would be at the top of your list?

Think about it. Books are a little, bundled up packages of art. The writing itself is art, expressing countless ideas and stories through the power of imagination. The binding is art, intricately holding the pages and covers together. And it’s all wrapped up in some of the most interesting and beautiful graphics of any product: book covers.

From stunning illustrations to mind-bending graphic design. Readers love a good book cover.

We’re only a quarter into the year and we’ve already seen so many jaw-dropping book covers. Publishers seriously spoil us book fanatics. So why not take a moment to highlight some of the recent YA book covers that have caught our eye during the last several months?

Yes — we’re finally allowing ourselves to judge books by their covers.

The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris

‘The Cost of Knowing’ by Brittney Morris (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

I’ve found myself staring at this cover a million times since it was released. The deep blues are striking, especially next to the vibrant red. The contrast immediately draws the reader in, introducing them to brothers Alex and Isaiah. It’s easily one of the best YA book covers of 2021.

Illustrator Alvin Epps deserves all the praise for this cover!

Learn more about The Cost of Knowing

Dustborn by Erin Bowman

‘Dustborn’ by Erin Bowman (HMH)

Both beautiful and haunting, the Dustborn cover shows off a rusty aesthetic, symbolizing the decay of the post-apocalyptic world found in the book’s pages. The details matter here too. The noisy and grainy texture, adds to the dusty and desolate nature of the world.

Dustborn‘s cover was designed by Matt Griffin.

Learn more about Dustborn

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

‘Lost in the Never Woods’ by Aiden Thomas (Swoon Reads)

I admit I’m a bit colorblind so I can’t quite tell whether or not this is blue or purple … *squints* I think it’s purple. Either way, there’s so much to take in when looking at this cover. The branches of the trees, forming faces and framing our subject as she walks into the depths of the woods. It’s both enchanting and mysterious at the same time.

Bravo to illustrator Loika for putting together what can only be called a perfect cover!

Learn more about Lost in the Never Woods.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

‘The Gilded Ones’ by Namina Forna (Delacorte)

This portrait of Namina Forna’s protagonist, Deka, is both simple and striking, which makes it a compelling draw for this popular fantasy novel. The golden paint on Deka’s cheek leads our attention all the way to her eye, focused and determined on whatever lies ahead.

The artwork for this cover is done by the brilliant Johnny Tarajosu.

Learn more about The Gilded Ones.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

‘Rule of Wolves’ by Leigh Bardugo (Imprint)

Here’s another one where the details just matter. This gorgeous cover for one of Leigh Bardugo’s latest Grishaverse installments looks like it was cut out of marble and silver. You could get lost tracing the tree’s roots and branches.

Hedi Xandt is the artist behind this beautiful cover. She seems to specialize in sculpture-based artwork.

Learn more about Rule of Wolves

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

‘The Infinity Courts’ by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Simon Pulse)

The red moon in this cover captures Akenu Dawn Bowman’s young character Nami Miyamoto in a mysterious way. The dark color offers a sense of something dangerous — or death — while the light shining on her face hints at life and humanity.

Casey Weldon designed the book cover for The Infinity Courts.

Learn more about The Infinity Courts.

Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi

‘Yolk’ by Mary H. K. Choi

Simple and bright. Like the subject, it’s enough to make you feel like you’re tumbling into this poignant story of two sisters. Not seen here, but when coupled with the back cover, you see the second sister, holding the hand of the first, as they fall down together.

The illustration is the work of artist gg.

Learn more about Yolk.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

‘Firekeeper’s Daughter’ by Angeline Boulley (Henry Holt and Co.)

The symmetry of this book flows in a way that conjures a sense of flames while tracing out the gorgeous outline of a colorful butterfly. At the same time, the motion of the pattern hints at the thrilling tale that unfolds in this story.

Moses Lunham is the mind behind this fitting cover.

Learn more about Firekeeper’s Daughter

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

‘What Big Wolf’ by Rose Szabo (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

This one captures your attention and doesn’t let go! A gaping hole sits in the center of this beautiful portrait, slash marks hinting at a beast — the jagged teeth emerging from the blackness a confirmation of the wolf beneath the surface.

Corey Brickley did a stellar job at capturing the ferociousness of this cover.

Learn more about What Big Teeth

Which from the list above is your favorite? Is there a YA book cover you think we should add?

Saul Marquez founded Bookstacked in 2014 and serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief. He primarily covers news for Bookstacked. He also co-hosts Bookmarked: A YA Book Podcast.

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