Friday Fiction: Young Adult Fiction – Judging Books By Their Covers

We all do it, judging books by their covers. We know we’re not supposed to, but with the internet as  a  venue for selling books, this “forbidden” pastime is more prevalent than ever, especially in Young Adult Fiction.

Considered the fastest growing fiction genre in the literary industry, Young Adult Fiction is filling the virtual shelves.

Covers – A Shelf Thing

If you walk into Barnes and Noble or Chapters (in Canada), you’ll find shelves of books listed by their specific genres: Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and so on.

One of the things that makes teen or young adult fiction so appealing is that it spans many genres. When you come across the Teen Fiction section in these big box stores, you’ll find a cornucopia of fiction all listed side-by-side. While some stores are dividing their shelves into YA subgenres, “Teen Horror”, “Teen Series”, or “Teen Romance” sections, many are not. So how does the reader differentiate?

By the cover, of course! And you’re seeing these covers everywhere. On book blogs, bookseller websites, author pages, and even the immesely popular Pinterest. Publishers want you to find their covers, and know the subgenre they fall into at a single glance.

A Guessing Game

Take for instance the following book covers. Supposing they are beside each other (taking last names out of the equation) on the book shelf. From these covers, can you tell what their sub-genres are?


What Would Emma Do? by Eileen Cook


City of Bones by Cassandra Clare


The Watcher by Lisa Voisin (Coming out in March, 2013)


by Stephanie Lawton


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Go ahead, guess what sub-genres each of these are. You can click on the book cover to read its synopsis on Goodreads.


If you guessed the following, you were correct:

1. Contemporary.

2. Urban fantasy.

3. Paranormal romance.

4. Contemporary.

5. Contemporary.

6. Fantasy.

And that’s all from a cover!


Now, I want to hear from you. Have you ever not been able to figure out the approximate sub genre from looking at the cover? Do you buy or read books based their covers?


8 thoughts on “Friday Fiction: Young Adult Fiction – Judging Books By Their Covers

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