Welcome back to another week of Lunarthon! This week, we’re looking at the covers of the Lunar Chronicles series. Plus, to celebrate the end of our Cress readalong, we’re giving away a paperback copy of Cress!
The final book in the Lunar Chronicles series hit the shelves on November 10 in English-speaking countries, but elsewhere fans have had to wait a little while longer. On April 21, the French translation of Winter will be released. French fans have been waiting patiently for months for the chance to read Winter, but when the book’s cover art was revealed – around the same time that I started planning this post on the series’ covers – it sparked outrage within the fandom. Winter, like so many characters of colour before her, had been whitewashed on her own cover.
Whitewashed characters on book covers are, sadly, nothing new. On the cover of Kristin Cashore’s Fire, the titular protagonist is depicted as a white woman, despite Fire being explicitly described as dark-skinned. The same can be said of Kate Elliot’s Spiritwalker trilogy. In many more books featuring protagonists of colour, the protagonists simply aren’t portrayed on their covers at all.
The U.S. Lunar Chronicles covers are absolutely gorgeous, each hinting at fairy tale elements of the series – from the cyborg foot in a glass slipper on Cinder’s cover to the glowing red apple on Winter’s. Anyone who’s read the series will be able to tell you that they’re not entirely representative of Meyer’s versions of each fairy tale – Cinder would never attempt to wear such high heels, and Cress would never have been able to get her ridiculously frizzy, knotty hair looking so sleek. But that’s the charm of the Lunar Chronicles covers – they draw you in and hint at the story inside without giving too much away.
That’s not to say that the original Lunar Chronicles covers are without fault. As much as I love the U.S. covers, I find it more than a little troubling that Meyer’s two white protagonists are almost entirely visible on their covers, while Cinder and Winter are respectively reduced to a single disembodied foot and hand. This glass-half-full representation is also nothing new – although Fire is depicted by a model of colour on the U.K. cover of Cashore’s best-selling book, she’s so poorly lit that half of her face is in shadow, making it almost impossible to distinguish her features. In other books, such as Robin Stevens’ middle grade mystery Murder Most Unladylike, Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unspoken, and Mia Garcia’s upcoming debut Even If the Sky Falls, characters of colour are shown only as silhouettes. Because heaven forbid book covers celebrate the diversity within their pages, right?
Other people, far more qualified to talk about diversity on book covers than I am, have already discussed the representation of minority characters on book covers at length. Malinda Lo’s Don’t judge a book by its cover is an interesting analysis of diversity on covers for YA books published in 2011, which discusses the importance of getting diverse books into readers’ hands and looking beyond bad covers.
“As more [diverse books]sell, publishers will be more inclined to incorporate diversity overtly on the covers,” Lo said. And the U.S. cover of Winter is proof of that. Still, it’s disheartening to see that five years on from Lo’s article, despite the increasingly vocal demand for diversity in YA, this is still happening – with the translation of a book whose original cover, featuring diversity front and centre, received so much praise when it was first revealed. Change is happening, but we’ve clearly still got a way to go.
Fill out the form below to win a copy of Cress by Marissa Meyer. Giveaway prizes donated by Macmillan. Open to entrants in the U.S. only. Void where prohibited.