The Easiest Way to Break My Heart…

… is to misrepresent the books of Tamora Pierce, my all-time favorite young adult writer, with new covers meant to appeal to this post-Twilight generation of young readers.

The cover of the first book of the Song of the Lioness quartet that I read looked like this:

It’s a pretty decent representation of what you’ll find inside the book. A young girl posing as a boy so that she can become a knight. It’s young adult, girl power high fantasy at it’s best. Pierce’s work, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, influenced me enormously when I was young, and I have a place for her in my heart. I will forever and ever have that place in my heart, because Tamora Pierce showed me over and over again (in all her gazillion books) that girls, like me, were multi-faceted, strong, brave, kind, intelligent, capable, loving people (who could also have sex as teenagers, and that was fine).

So, I go into a bookstore a few days ago and happen to see the Song of the Lioness quartet on display. I’m all for new covers, new representations of my beloved books, but not when they look like this:

What? Since when does Alanna wear a cute faux-medieval belted tunic and strike feisty little poses? Alanna doesn’t lean sweetly on her sword, she wields it! But that’s far from the worst.

This is the worst:

Is this a Tamora Pierce book or the latest installment of the Twilight Saga? It looks like the same cute little kohl-eyed heroine (again posing with her sword stuck in the dirt), but this time she’s torn between two brooding young men. I promise this book is so much more than Alanna choosing which boyfriend she wants.

Compare to the cover of the book I read:

This is also an accurate representation of the story inside.

I understand that marketing strategies change. But I also understand that saturating the young adult fantasy market with Twilight knockoffs and supernatural romances does no good for any young adult, female or male. I resent this attempt to market Pierce’s work as a supernatural romance.

What about kids like I was, who needed high fantasy and its swords, sieges, tournaments, and castles? What about the girls like I was, who needed high fantasy that would inspire me, empower me? Maybe some of those girls will, distraught amongst the rows and rows of vampire circus masquerade romances, decide not to trust this cover and give Pierce a try. Maybe some of those girls will ignore Pierce’s work, thinking they’re the only girls on the planet who want to read about knights. It’s not that Pierce’s books are devoid of romance or sensuality; but this is merely a facet of these well-rounded books, with the romance and sex usually taking a backseat to the protagonists’ other accomplishments and conflicts.

The new covers, beyond simply being misrepresentations of the books, diminish the importance that strength and being well-rounded (and frankly, being medieval) have to the series. If there is one thing I’m sick of, it’s how desperate our culture is to tell girls and young women that they aren’t strong, that they’re one-dimensional.

Pierce wrote the Song of the Lioness series in part to prove that swords are for girls, but these new covers tell us that swords, for girls, are only a prop with which to simper.

-Joanna

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6 thoughts on “The Easiest Way to Break My Heart…

  1. Enjoyed the post! Why do the guys on the second cover remake look like they are wearing modern clothes? Is part of the novel set in contemporary times? The other covers don’t suggest that.

    • Enjoy! I think the old covers are beautiful on their own, not just in comparison to these new horrors. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Pierce’s work, but I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! 🙂

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