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Girls in dresses: YA fantasy book cover cliches we love

Like this image I made of covers with girls in dress? Please pin it!

I was just browsing through the bestsellers in teen/fantasy on Kindle and noticed a trend in book cover design: girls in fancy dress. This is nothing new, but other people have talked about cliches in YA fiction book cover design, the implication being that cliches are bad somehow.

But look, these aren’t just decent YA fantasy covers, these are some of the bestselling books in the whole genre. It should tell you something that about 50% of book in the genre have very similar covers:

  • A woman in a dress, usually from the back (or side, sometimes forward)
  • Often an ocean, lake or forest in the background

YA is a popular genre, and there are probably about a million other books that aren’t bestsellers. Good book design does whatever is most attractive to readers; YA fantasy books use covers like this because it’s an easy win.

They’re beautiful. The nature can symbolize fear, being overwhelmed or lost, and freedom. The ocean is a psychological representation of sex and sexuality (though most people don’t know it: if you think of a body of water, then write down 3 adjectives about it, those are usually your feelings towards sex).

The pretty dresses are because most girls want to feel beautiful and enjoy dressing up (but also being wild and free and taking that nice dress and running through the mud with it).

Those are some of the same feelings that YA fantasy addresses.

What do you think? Sick of these kinds of covers, or do you ooh and awe whenever the latest, most beautiful one is revealed?