As a reader and lover of books, it’s always very cool to meet the authors of my favorite books and characters in person. There is a connection, that really, an avid fan can’t describe when having met them. Personally, I’ve been reading Ted Dekker books since 2002 and have met him numerous times in multiple settings from fan packed bookstores to a friend’s backyard deck in a deep conversation under the midnight stars. While my name might or might not ring a bell with Ted himself, I know him well. That said here are some rules for this critique:
I am in no way shape or form attacking the author or the story they have written. This also includes the cover artist who’s work is on display here. It’s not cool to make enemies. Secondly, this is merely a friendly critique from my personal point of view. All comments made are of my soul mind and opinion. Finally, this is all in good design fun, art is art and what is art if somebody doesn’t like it?
When this title debuted online and considering Dekker being an author I’ve followed for a number of years now, it wasn’t lost on me. I quickly poured over it. As simple of an image as it is, there is a lot to see here, but that is also where it fails.
My first thought is mood. It has a dark, dungeon-ish feel to it. The light and dark atmosphere with the brickwork offset by the dark, rustic doors in the middle of the page is nice and then you realize the doors are to a modern prison. This gives a sense of intrigue, a question of “what’s going on here.” Then it also hit me that the over image here looks similar to that of a church. Does that idea play into the story as well? Undertones much?
A CLOSER LOOK:
Follow this link for detailed view of the cover. - Giant View
Honestly, I can’t tell if this is a retouched photo or Photoshoped image. If it’s the latter it’s well done. (Save for the bottom of the first pillar. There is a tiny crack exactly in the same spot on each one. No way this would naturally happen.)
Also if you look very close the words “An Eye For An Eye” are written above the doors. Interesting and thought provoking, but sadly will be lost in a thumbnail view online and possibly on the ebook version of this release. Lower you’ll see the inner workings of the gears of the door opening mechanism and even a missing bolt. The small details were fine tuned here and yet still a misfortune for those reading on their cell phone. (I’ve seen folks do this.)
All this would stand to debate if the design was done to drive print or ebook editions. The print market has taken a hit with the arrival of eReaders and ebook are the way most readers are getting their new releases. So it is would seem this release was meant for print in my mind. That’s not to say it doesn’t work for ebook size. Just not very well in my opinion basing it merely off the cover. Although, still critiquing the design, I have this nagging feeling something is missing or something more could be represented here. Then it hits me. It needs a human element. This is just architecture done well. Where are the characters, the pulsing force in almost every book, where are is the one factor another human might read this book? Dekker is known for his off the wall characters and internal human conflict. That is what this cover sorely needs!
It’s difficult to point out faults in any work done by an author I admire and as linked as they may or may not have with this cover, their name is on the front. Usually the direction of a cover by a “big six publisher” is driven by marketing and the author has little say if any. For the authors I work with they have full say in what goes into their design, they know the story best and my job is to represent that on the cover.
With The Sanctuary, I’m torn. Yes, this follows the Ted Dekker brand if you look back at past titles, but I think it could have been done differently, still had that mysterious, moody effect and had more feelings brought to what I’m sure is to be a great story inside. By a hair’s margin I’m going to have to give this a thumbs down. That missing element is just strong enough to slide me that way.
Finally, please don’t let my review sway you from reading this book. I know I’ll pick it up regardless of the cover. The Sanctuary by Ted Dekker releases October 30th and is available for preorder online. You can visit the link from Amazon below!
Although the final outcome was touched by multiple hands, I feel fortunate to have worked directly with Ted and the team at Random House Publishers. Here is one of my mock ups for the release that wasn’t used.
Thanks for visiting.
Disagree with my critique or want to request a cover for me to review? Feel free to post a comment below. Everybody is allowed their own opinion and I love reading yours.
I own a tons of books. My TBR (To Be Read) pile is probably two years thick, this including both print and ebooks. So it’s hard for me to step foot into a bookstore, library, or garage sale down the street with a box of twenty-five cent paperbacks and not add a few more to the zombie horde like stack. I say zombie horde, because some on my list are that old. As if they’ve come back from the dead with a 50th anniversary editon and moaning, “rrrread me”. I hear you zombie East of Eden...
Yet, I digress. It’s difficult for me to choose what to read next. There is always something new coming out or vying for my attention. When making that decision sometimes I pick a book solely on it’s cover. We all do it, right? Whether we are discovering the author for the first time or it truly is a reissued classic with a brand new forward inside.
For this cover critique I chose a book from an author I’ve never read. 15 Seconds by author Andrew Gross. I do own a couple of his other books, but sadly I haven’t gotten to them yet.
Here are a few ground rules:
I am in no way shape or form attacking the author or the story they have written. It’s not cool to make enemies. Secondly, this is merely a friendly critique from my personal point of view. All comments made are of my soul mind and opinion. Finally, this is all in good design fun, art is art and what is art if somebody doesn’t like it?
I do my best to keep up on who’s who in the publishing world. Sometimes that can be difficult, although it’s hard not to recognize a big name like James Patterson. I know this isn’t a James Patterson book, but he helped kickstart Gross’s career with co-writing a few novels. In 2006 Gross went solo with his own work and since then has published six novels, this one being his most recent.
I first saw this cover walking through the “New Release Fiction” section at Barnes and Noble. In my local store they display the books facing out as apposed to spine out thus showcasing each cover for all to see. To be brutally honest here, I seriously thought the cover of this book was a Nazi symbol. Shocking, yes, but not unseen for a cover on a historical non-fiction title. Again this was the fiction section and this too could feature such a sobering emblem. It drew me in for a...
A CLOSER LOOK:
Realizing that it was not a Swastika on the cover, but the title of the book I became even more confused. Why would someone design something this way. My eyes had to decipher the correct flow of the words. Everybody naturally reads left to right and usually start at the top of page and work their way down. It’s easy, simple, we shouldn’t have to work at it. Now that I knew what the cover said, my mind had to shift to understand which words were the title and those that were the author’s name. This is not a good sign. Granted this exchange took a matter of moments, but for me as a visual learner, it should not take me or anyone else this long. I should be able to glance and read naturally, not fight understand what is in front of me. My eyes are too easily distracted and will hook on to something else. To me the whole title itself could read “Gross 15 Seconds Andrew”.
Moving on to a good note, the color red sticks out and maybe only the eye-catching thing about this design. I also see black and white, which are two other good visual colors, but then I see the author’s first name in gray. I wonder why. It’s not fluid in my opinion. The way the words are sort of standing up and overlapping each other doesn’t help the layout either. Which brings me to my.....
As a reader I am familiar with Andrew Gross’s name and I know what genre of books he writes. So going in I understand the reasoning for the way this cover “wants” to portray itself, the title even gives us that. “15 Seconds” says, it’s a thriller, they want motion, excitement, the words do have movement to them and sort of 3D effect going on, but in the end it’s dull to me. For a book cover to capture a reader’s attention you have to have readability and be pleasing to the eye. With this release there is just too much hard work going on for me to stay in it.
Please don’t let my review sway you from reading this book.15 Seconds by Andrew Gross is available online and in bookstores right now. You can visit the link below to order your copy from Amazon Kindle and start reading it right now!