After last week’s look at Jane Eyre over the years, I thought I’d take a look at something a little more recent over a shorter span of time: Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, an alternate history steampunk rendition of WWI. (Plus, I really enjoyed this book.)
To keep me on track, I shall list:
Semantic Unit = cover art
Genre = book covers
Style = …
I’m going to stop right there at style for a second because that’s where my train of thought really begins. Both the covers for Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan (above) maintain a dark, mechanical, masculine style. I am wondering if this is more a reflection of our perceptions of WWI (lots of metal, dark, gloomy) or an advertising strategy to draw in more young male readers despite the fact that one of the two main characters and perspectives is a girl. (She’s a girl pretending to be a boy so she can join the Air Service, but a girl nonetheless, and male readers are notoriously unlikely to read books with female protagonists.) If that’s the case, does our ideology dictate that dark, metal, gloom, etc. equals male?
Here’s a little something in comparison.
Meet one of the Japanese covers for Leviathan, posted on Westerfeld’s blog in late 2011. First, it’s a painting (whether digital or traditional, I’m not sure). That alone is a little odd as Leviathan is a Middle Grade/Young Adult title, a category in which I’ve seen a rise in photo-manipulation and a drop in painted book covers. Moreover, while the clothing on this cover is still relatively dark, it has a completely different style from the other two. The lighting is much brighter, the font less wide and heavy, and the clouds and possible wind combine to give it a light, but adventurous atmosphere.
Is this one of the Japanese covers because the Japanese market uses more painted book covers or because they wanted to attract a different demographic? Or does this type of cover appeal to the same demographic in Japan, but that demographic is used to a different style than its American counterpart? I don’t know enough of the Japanese book market to say, but I’d love to know.