Friday, July 25, 2014

POC Diversity on covers in 2014

I don't think I'm particularly bothered about cover trends.  I don't normally spot them until somebody else points them out.  Things like legs on covers or floating dead girls.  But I have noticed one thing lately and now that I've noticed it I can't help but be annoyed by it.

Small sample of books on my current TBR pile

I think my notice of this was partly to do with the amazing #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign that happened recently, but I'm so tired now of seeing white face after white face on covers.  I appreciate that roughly-speaking 90% books published feature white main characters so all these white faces on books make sense. But I'm still not happy about it.  I want to see more diversity in the books I read and I want to see YA fiction in particular to be a better reflection and representation of the world that we live in.  And I want to see these people of colour on covers.

Personally, I am mixed-race.  My mother is Native Alaskan, my father is white.  I grew up reading very few books involving people of colour and certainly none that I remember as being mixed race.  I am now the mother of two mixed-race children and for their sake and mine, I am on the hunt for better representation of diversity within books not just concerning race (but that is the focus of this blog post) but also concerning religion, sexuality and ability.

I'm tired of covers that misrepresent POC on covers or hide behind silhouettes or blown-out colours in order to disguise the fact that it is a POC on the front cover. So, today I thought I would share the small selection of POC on some of the covers that are or have been published in the UK in 2014.  If you know of any others, please do let me know.

The Shadow's Curse by Amy McCulloch

First off, I have the mention The Shadow's Curse by Amy McCulloch.  This is the second book in a YA fantasy duology and the first book in the series, The Oathbreaker's Shadow also features POC characters on the front cover.  These two books make me very happy and I know that Amy McCulloch has really pushed and championed having the right representation on her covers.  These books tell the stories of characters based on medieval Mongolia mean that there aren't any white characters in her books.  I love that Amy's stories are fantasy and (I think, I haven't yet read them) that they aren't burdened by any sort of racial issues.

Darkness Hidden by Zoe Marriott

Zoe Marriott is another that I've read before and I've loved her inclusion of diversity within her stories previously.  Her new urban fantasy series, The Name of the Blade, has been given a make-over this year and both books in the series have shown prominent characters of Asian descent on the covers, which I adore. The main character, Mio, and the love interest, Shinobu, are Japanese and there is no shying away from this based on the covers!

Shadowplay by Laura Lam

This cover for Shadowplay is one of my favourite recent covers with the make-up and facial adornment of this character of Asian descent (so jealous of the cheekbones!). I love the simplicity and beauty of it.  I also really appreciate that other types of diversity appear in Laura Lam's stories.

Unstoppable by Liz Bankes

The cover that I have shown above is not the final cover sadly.  The two people pictured are smaller on the final cover and I don't want to presume a reason for that cover change at all. I really enjoy this series of companion novels by Liz Bankes and I look forward to reading this book!

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

This book has not yet been published, but it stood out for me because of the beautiful black boy on the cover. This book is a look at race issues and the fact that a white woman is raising an adoptive black son in the 1930s who get mixed up in a war in Ethiopia. I really want to read it.

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Holly Black and Maureen Johnson

And finally we have this collection of short stories that surrounds everyone's favourite warlock, Magnus Bane. I can't say that I've read more than one of the Magnus Bane chronicles so far but I look forward to November when the whole collection is published in hardback.

Do you have a favourite POC cover that has been published recently? Any I've overlooked? Do share in comments! 


  1. Great blog post. I don't have any that come up at the top of my head except a random Library find I reviewed back during april because I needed a book where the author or title had the letter Q. It was a book about a middle eastern girl called Beneath My Mothers Feet, which had an interesting girl growing up and trying to figure out what she wanted in life while dealing with hardships.

    As a writer, I didn't think about it much at first. In fact, I rarely ever even describe skin color in a story because I figured the readers can decide what the characters look like themselves. But as I near the time to submit a novel, I am wondering more. The one teen might be assumed as white but the other in the same story, one who will be POV in the series, well his last name is Dimerez. Wonder how it will all go, if they do get picked up somewhere (and there is the whole orientation factor but that's true of almost all that I write).

    Anyways, great topic for the blog post. I liked the diversity push people posted cause it is true, we need diverse books, but it's hard to focus on both providing for all factors and get the dollar signs in check. I'd rather publish for the minority, get glbtq groups books about teens like them, than be a best seller. Will have to wait and see what happens.

    1. Thanks, Dawn, and good luck with your writing :)

  2. I agree, it would be great to see more diversity in books, especially more mixed race characters. :)

    I'm actually reading a YA book at the moment which I'm really enjoying and the main character Kami is 3 quarters white and a quarter Asian. Her grandmother (Dad's mum) was Japanese. It's called Unspoken and the author is Sarah Rees Brennan. Here's a link on Amazon:

    Sorry the link is so long! It doesn't work if I cut it.

    1. I've only read one book by SRB and it isn't that book, perhaps I shall give it a go soon. Thanks for the recommendation :)

    2. I've read a short story by her but I don't think I'd read a full novel before. Unspoken is part of a series, so I'll see if I can reserve the next book at the library. You're welcome, hope you enjoy it if you do read it. :)


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