Book List

17 Gorgeously Illustrated YA Book Covers That We Can’t Stop Staring At

April 16, 2020
Nicole Fiorica

It’s hard to be a book lover and not spend a lot of time obsessing over book covers. When I see a beautiful cover, I need to hold it, ogle at it, and leave it face out on my shelf so everyone else can lovingly admire it, too.  Lately, illustrated covers have been a huge presence on my shelves. They’re like works of art all on their own, conveying emotion, danger, and magic with carefully chosen strokes of a pencil or brush.

Here are some of our favorite illustrated covers:

17 Gorgeously Illustrated YA Book Covers

1. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

This cover is simultaneously stunning and heartbreaking. The lungs that transition into blue and coral flowers are so lovely, but the two figures separated, unable to touch each other, gives this cover that added emotional punch. Pass the tissues, please!


2. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

If you’re like me, you’ll read any book with a bird on the cover, just on principle. But even beyond that, the illustrated jacket of this book is just so gorgeous, and the lush colors and details make this a cover I could stare at all day long (and pretty much already do).


3. We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian

This cover is absolutely amazing! I don’t know about you, but I love a purple cover and there seriously aren’t enough. Plus all these cool ladies on the front would definitely have me reaching to take it off the shelf!


4. When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

Talk about a squad that I would love to be a part of! Just look at them! This illustration combined with the red deserves a standing ovation!


5. The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

You guys. I freaked out the first time I saw this cover.  I’m obsessed with the moody atmosphere, the fierce heroine, and of course, the snakes curling their way out of her hair. Not to mention the way the type is whisked into the sky. One glance at this cover and I know this is every bit the dark fantasy I want to be reading on a blustery night.


6. 500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

Not going to lie, this cover really makes me want to own a pair of green pants. And beyond that, I’m a huge fan of the soft colors, the characters disappearing up into the clouds, and the simple but lovely title treatment. It all sets the perfect tone for a thoughtful novel in verse.


7. Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario

I don’t know what it is about Juleah del Rosario’s books that make me want to go online shopping. That’s a lie, I know what it is. It’s that sweater! Also I can’t stop looking at the sky! How it fades until it’s a pale green. Absolutely beautiful.


8. The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

This is the first book set in the world of Shadowhunters to have an illustrated cover, and it came out really cool. I’m in awe of all of the intricate line-work that went into this drawing of Paris. But if we’re being really honest, I keep getting distracted by Magnus and Alec holding hands, and now I just have all the feels.


9. Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi

If you’re not already head-over-heels for this cover, it’s time to get on board. Not only do the pale pink background and gold lettering hit just the right note for a quirky romance novel, but the illustrations of Penny and Sam are just perfect, right down to Sam’s awesome haircut. I already know I want to be friends with these guys.


10. Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

I am so impatient to read Dealing in Dreams, and that is in large part to this gorgeous cover. I love the contrast between the blues and yellows, and the flowers create a surreal, dream-like feeling. But coupled with a clearly badass protagonist, I just want this cover on my shelf so badly.


11. Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

I have a well-documented history of being obsessed with books that have birds on the cover. And I am! But what I really love about Summer Bird Blue is that beautiful wave cresting over the entire cover. And the lovely, intricate bird drawings are the icing on the cake.


12. Just Wreck it All by N. Griffin

Another stunning bird cover! (What can I say? It really works.) In all seriousness, I love the bright collage of colors that make up these wings, and the drawn head, looking up, ready to take flight. It all comes together to strike exactly the right hopeful note.


13. The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson

Another great cover for an amazing book! I’m a strong believer in the use of lots of yellow on book covers, and The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried is the perfect example. It totally pops and immediately catches the eye. I can’t wait to start reading!


14. The Falconer by Dana Czapnik

I absolutely love watercolor art on book covers and The Falconer is totally gorgeous! The simple line to create the face, the city skyline in the hair, I could look at this cover all day!


15. The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee

I love everything about this cover. The purples, the people, and how the fade into the background. This is the type of cover I could star at all day and never get bored.


16. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

This is another illustrated cover from Charlie Bowater and yet again she’s taken my breath away! I mean just look at the girl’s face, the way the light catches her cheeks and her nose. There are so many little details that I won’t ever get tired of looking at this cover.


17. Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

First off, can we just talk about these colors?! That pink is amazing. Also all the each one of the characters on the front has so much personality, I wish I could be there dancing with them.


Looking for more? Check out these cover makeovers that we just can’t stop talking about!

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