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Cover Collection 16: Patron Saints of Nothing, by Randy Ribay, designed by Dana Li, with art by Jor-Ros

June 10, 2019

Welcome to Cover Collection, my mostlly-weekly blog series in which I rave about book covers that I love, and talk about why they work. Today we're looking at the eye-catching cover of Randy Ribay's upcoming novel Patron Saints of Nothing, which was designed by the talented Dana Li and which features art by Jor-Ros. Take a look!

 

 This cover is ON FIRE

 

Normally, I wait until I've finished a book to talk about its cover on here, because I want to be able to talk about how the important story elements are represented on the cover, and how can I do that if I haven't read the book? But I love this cover so much, and although I haven't FINISHED the book, I feel like I'm far enough into it to talk about some of what's so great about it.

 

First: the color palette. It's limited to essentially four colors plus white, and wow, does it ever make me stop and look. This is an example of a design choice that could have backfired, but, in this case, only serves to enhance the cover. There's a lot going on with the imagery, and more colors would have been too much. Keeping it limited was a smart choice.

 

And let's talk about the imagery! To quote the copy on the back of the ARC I picked up at ALA Midwinter (I still can't believe I got to go to that! MY PUBLISHER IS AMAZING!), this is a book about faith, family, and identity, and the struggle to reconcile the three. The title exemplifies this, and so do the nimbus behind the boy's head and the fact that he is holding flames (Be The Light, anyone?). It's clear from looking at this cover that this is a kid who is struggling with Catholicism: who it helps, who it hurts, who it supports, and who it lets down. And it's also clear that he is struggling to figure out where he fits in in all this. It's extremely well done.

 

It wouldn't be right to wrap this up without talking about representation on book covers. This is a Filipino kid. Do you know how rare it is to see a Filipino kid on a book cover? My mom immigrated to America from the Philippines in the early 70s, and I grew up on boxes of Filipino stuff from Gramps and Lola. We lived for those precious packages of dried mangoes and sampalok! Reading this book has done so many things to me, and I won't get into them here (although I will in another post, after I finish the book). But I want to say that seeing a Filipino kid on the cover of a YA feels groundbreaking.

 

Last thing: I love the title font, and how messy it is. It asks us why we should bother being perfect when the world is on fire around us. It asks us to think hard about what's important, and why. It's awesome.

 

That's all I have time for today. It's your turn! What do YOU love about this cover? Let me know in the comments, and let's continue the conversation!

 

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