They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but some book covers are so gorgeous they deserve to be showcased in a museum! From original illustrations to embroidery, these are some of the most memorable and visually stunning YA covers out there.
The Museum of Us by Tara Wilson Redd
Museum section it belongs in: the entrance!
Soft and dreamy, with a stunning blend of white, dark blue, and turquoise as its main palette, the cover of The Museum of Us would be a perfect entrance piece at any museum or art gallery. This intoxicating debut from Tara Wilson Redd tells the story of Sadie, her rock star boyfriend, and the secret life she shares with the dazzling George. It’s all about our rich interior worlds, and you totally get that just by glancing at the cover art. A boy and girl stand together on a patch of puffy clouds, looking up at a starry night sky. You can’t help but feel their anticipation and wonder, and want to join them on whatever adventure awaits.
The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck
Museum section it belongs in: horror art
This nightmarish paranormal fantasy has a terrifying cover to match its super creepy story! With glowing text, a front-and-center human skull, and a spattering of glowing fireflies, the cover immediately gives off a dark, sinister vibe. There is a firefly (if that’s indeed what they are—they could be paranormal insects!) in each eye socket, and another makes its home in the skull’s mouth. Squint your eyes a little, and the skull seems to be smiling at you. Shudder.
by M. T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park, and Deborah Hopkinson
Museum section it belongs in: classic
This unique take on the tragic lives of Henry VIII and his six wives is told by a whopping seven authors! The cover reminds us of Johannes Vermeer’s famous oil painting Girl with a Pearl Earring, only the subject of Fatal Throne’s cover art is glancing off to the side as opposed to gazing directly at you. While the cover and the painting are from different time periods and places, both feel intensely personal and somehow tragic with their subtle color schemes and gorgeous details.
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Museum section it belongs in: realism
Careful attention to detail is what makes this impeccably illustrated Western-themed cover so memorable. It’s a fitting look for Erin Bowman’s gritty, haunting revenge story, filled with characters as complex and fascinating as the intricate cover. And the two guns crossed above human and animal bones only add to the sense of mystery.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Museum section it belongs in: surrealism
It’s hard to imagine one illustration perfectly capturing the moody, painfully beautiful story of grief that Nina LaCour paints so vividly in her novel, but this cover more than delivers. Featuring a simple color palette of blue, pink, and white, this dreamy cover has a surrealist vibe that begs you to open the book.
The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Museum section it belongs in: portraits
While many YA covers feature girls looking wistfully at the horizon, hair floating in the wind, the girl depicted on the front of The Education of Margot Sanchez is visibly moody. But her portrait shows the depth of character in her eyes, with a chain-link fence and apartment building backdrop capturing this striking South Bronx tale in visual form.
Landscape with Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
Museum section it belongs in: impressionist
Eerie and offbeat, the cover of M. T. Anderson’s dystopian satire lets you know up front that you’re in for a wild ride. A hot pink flying saucer beams down onto an otherwise neutral country landscape. The glow of the saucer’s light saturates the color palette while chopping the author’s name in half. It’s subtle but totally effective.
Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
Museum section it belongs in: embroidery
While there are several covers of this fantastic book available, this one is our favorite. Featuring the texture and feel of embroidery, this lovingly made cover reflects the setting of this World War II–era novel. Not to mention that it’s even more striking when you open up the book to see the full jacket design.