Young Adult Covers Depict Death as Beautiful


Young Adult Book Covers with Beautiful, Dead Girls

(From Rachel Stark’s article)
What do recent Young Adult books all have in common, apart from having beautiful people falling in love at an early age? Book covers featuring the teenage heroines in a picturesque background, serene in the embrace of death – a first impression that is meant to portray the epitome of an idealistic end.

Sure, love until death has been a tragically romantic seller from before the cliché “Romeo and Juliet”, but that was Shakespeare. That was drama and flourishes and sonnets declaimed during masquerades. Even then, suicide was a messy, bloody, and ultimately needless affair that doesn’t care for mimicking from a realistic standpoint. Yet, like the rendering of Rue’s death in The Hunger Games as a meaningful, flower-bedecked event, this trend in book covers glosses over the essential detail: there was a brutal spear through her that brought about her death. And unlike Snow White’s fairy tale, true love cannot bring back the dead.

Last October, Marketing Manager Rachel Stark blogged about the disturbing tendency to dress up death in innocuous, appealing ways and put them on Young Adult books that market towards girls. The fact that such an allure is present and sells is worrying enough, creating further qualms about our society. Stark blames the demand of such covers on the natural tendency for girls to dwell on the melodramatic, and that being a reflection on societal pressures of image. In this day and age, where depression and suicide are a crippling factor in death rates, implanting this iconization further is a terrible idea. What’s worse, the same cannot be said for the representation of males.

It is true that the rising fascination with paranormal romances and dystopian literature involves a sort of rising from the dead; pale, bloodless skin has become desperately desirable. But, what the pictures glamorize is the lifeless body, empty of personality. Females are objectified even further. With rape awareness surging, that is not a positive theme to imply.

Nevertheless, what is more alarming is not so much sexual objectification, but the elegance suggested in death. Life doesn’t follow the path Twilight and other books might imply. More likely than not, a genuine, workable relationship doesn’t present itself to a fifteen-year-old, and throwing yourself headlong into marriage, childbirth, and then death (albeit the vampire aspect) is not an advisable example to follow. Divorces and teenage parenthood are already being memorialized by the media, but death is far more fatal. No one can feasibly be alive to see how many will cry at his or her funeral, yet many still dream of it.

Although this may seem an old and apparent concept, the facts of suicide are clear. Subtle subliminal messages like these artistic renderings may, in the heat of the moment, have more long-lasting effects than a parent can hope to preach. The power of books, more so than even movies, is the ability to allow a reader to live the fantasy and become the character. People take away values from what they read and let them color their lifestyles. In this case, instead of life lessons, young girls are taught seek an immortal fame, one that doesn’t exist. Self-destruction, no matter the situation, should never be shown as a glorious feet.

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