Must read books with super ugly covers

This post will be a bit unusual, because it will be mainly about book covers, as the title suggests. Who has not heard the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”? So I decided to make a list about good books with awful covers, thus I’m quite sure there is an abundance of bad books with ugly covers and bad books with brilliant covers. Maybe in the future I will make a list for the other two categories too.

This post will be entirely subjective, absolutely based on my personal preferences. I’ll try my best to explain why I dislike the chosen covers as best as I can, so please don’t hold it against me, if our opinions differ. And now, let’s check out some book with ugly covers, shall we?

3. Gold Digger (Aleksandr Voinov)

Gold digger is a sequel of the Special Forces (Aleksandr Voinov’s most monumental work). Being a sequel, the main character of the book is none of the characters of the original work, but Vadim’s son, Nikolai, who is a grown up in Gold Digger, a representative of a gold mining company, who seeks investors in Toronto for their new mine somewhere in eastern Europe.

The main reason I read this book was Vadim. Father and son could finally have a well deserved closure which neither they nor the readers got in the 3rd book of Special Forces (Veterans). Speaking of Veterans, I liked Nikolai in that book, but honestly (he had handful of appearances in the other SF books), I wasn’t really interested in his story.

However, Gold Digger was a fun read picking up the thread right after the wedding in Veterans. Even if gold mining was interesting despite being as far from my interests or hobbies as Jupiter from Earth. Nonetheless before realizing it I got all wrapped up in this story, perhaps thanks to the new characters like: Henri, Ruslan, Tamás etc. My absolute favorites were obviously Henri and Nikolai, I routed for them, and I loved their interactions, especially the banter between the two men.

Summarizing the book, Gold Digger is a very pleasant but a short read, not much more than a hundred pages. And I can state with solid conviction that my life would be poorer without reading this mini-novel. But now let’s get a good look on the covers. I will compare the English and the Italian version.

The cover of the English version is just mildly ugly compared to the other books you can find on this list. This cover is purely kitschy, if you don’t get what I mean, just look at that gold dust in the background. The frame in the absolute background was not a bad idea, it gives a 3D-feel to the whole cover, we can see the depth of the image, and we don’t get any uneasy feeling of a Nikolai floating in the white nothingness before a golden background. I think that man is Nikolai, but he can well be Henri, but in the end it doesn’t matter much… one of the two. End of story.

What I personally find a bit disturbing looking at the cover is that the man doesn’t cast a shadow on the golden wall. You can see his shadow under him, and a little fraction of it above his right hand, but his head, shoulders and arms don’t cast shadows… Like it was forgotten when his body was cropped out from the original photo.

Speaking of the man, in my opinion his open shirt is totally uncalled for. Whether the man on the cover is Nikolai (representative of a gold mining company) or Henri (heir to a gold mining concern), that open shirt give away an unprofessional vibe. Plus I don’t like half-naked bodies on my books. Not that I have anything against beautiful, sculpted half-naked or naked bodies, but I don’t like when publishers/artist want to sell their stories with nudity. The other thing I dislike on covers is the faces of the body-models. I don’t like my imagination be influenced by them.

What I did like though on this cover was the title’s font and the cut-out at a view of Toronto. It gives away something of the book’s atmosphere, even suggests the trips of the main characters going back and forth between Canada and New Zealand.

After all these cover-shaming, you can find below the cover of the Italian version, plus a bonus cover for the English version which is almost good (much better than the official version). I don’t want to get into explanations why I like these ones better than the official English version. Check them and draw you conclusions. 😉

2. Displaced (Sofia Grey)

This book is rather a longer novella than a shorter novel, it’s only 77 pages, and an easy read for a lazy afternoon. The novella tells us the story of Henare, the sea dragon who is forced into exile among the humans. He is forced to live like humans, in the form of a human male. He’s lonely and lost, and for centuries he’s waiting for his lover – the one Henare got expelled for. But everything changes, when he meets TJ, the lifeguard. And TJ manages to tame the sea dragon without even knowing.

I really liked this book. It takes place on New-Zealand, taking inspiration from the Maori mythology. I read a lot of reviews of this book, and I got the impression that others did not like it as much as I did. Based on the opinions, this novella was mediocre at best. The reviews say that the mythological references are imprecise and inaccurate. I can’t judge this, what I know about the Maori culture is close to nothing. But nonetheless the love-story part was lovely, and I really liked the twist at the end of the novella.

But the cover! It is awful… I already explained above why I don’t like models on the covers. In this case my main problem is not the man posing as the sea dragon, but the dragon in the background. So where to start? That dragon looks like it came from the Chinese or Japanese mythology. I googled “taniwha” the Maori sea defender and it doesn’t look a bit like the dragons from the eastern mythology, if something the taniwha resembles the inca or mayan dragons.

Not to mention that the one on the cover is half-finished at best. It looks like a cheap CGI dragon with a budget run out halfway. Where are the colors? Or some layers of skin to make it look less than a plastic action figure?

1. Jailmates and Farborn (Maxime Colonies 1-2. by Lesli Richardson)

The real winner of the awfulness contest in this case is Jailmates, the 1st book of the series (Farborn also is ugly enough, but the uncrowned king of ugliness is the 1st volume). So I will skip Farborn this time, but just to traumatize you, I attached both covers above.

Jailmates takes place in the future when humanity inhabited the space and got in contact with a variety of new species and life forms. Humanity is a part of a galactic union. The main character, Simon enlists for a 5 years scientific mission on the newest colonies founded by humans and a lot of other species, one of them a specific science-nerd species experimenting with a lot of stuff, like making species compatible with each other.

And Simon finds himself in the thick of it, when he signs a contract he was reluctant to read fully and understand what will be required from him. But whatever, he goes with the flow, and in the end he finds everything he was searching for in his whole life.

I liked, no… I adored this book, the world building, the new species, the way humanity conquered the universe, not to mention that humans instead of annihilating themselves, make a good use of their knowledge. So it was good, I liked the social arrangement among the different, the galactic travel system, the way of life on the different planets and space stations (even the social issues and problems seemed realistic on a sci-fi level).

But the cover! Oh my God! The cover of the first volume is the ugliest one I ever had the misfortune to come across… How? How on earth could something this ugly get not just out, but published? Ok, I get it, the other main character, Mohrn is pink and 8 feet tall. But nobody checked that pink eyesore on the cover? And that purple suction cup marks on his skin? And that purple hair covering Mohrn’s head, it looks like plastic spaghetti…

I can’t even find words how awful is this cover… But if there is some kind of award for abominable covers, Jailmates from Maxime Colonies would be an exceptional candidate.

These are the ugliest covers in my opinion. Despite of the covers the books definitely are worth reading. I’ll even re-read Jailmates in the future. Lucky for us, ugly covers can be hidden using one specific kindle book view layout. XD

  • Source of book covers: Goodreads
  • Collages by PhotoGrid
  • Source of cover image: (@mahen144)

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