Cover Re-Breakdown: Undertow by Michael Buckley

We at RT love a good book cover. That’s why we reveal them, vote on them and examine them. In a recent cover breakdown, we looked at Michael Buckley’s upcoming YA, Undertow. But then, the inexplicable happened. The publicist emailed us and told us they had changed the cover. But we already said we liked it! We don’t deal well with change! And yet we must. So here we are, to examine Buckley’s new cover. 

First, here’s the blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

Now, here’s the old image: 

Undertow, old cover

Let’s examine the new one! 


Click to enlarge image

Even though I loved the old cover, and still think it’s more evocative than the new one, I can understand why they switched it up. In the first cover, there’s not too much that’s sinister, aside from the lighting and the title itself. The figures could be construed as lurching or fleeing — but they could also just be nighttime revellers. The wave in the front feels suffocating, but there’s no real suggestion of anything paranormal or destructive to society as a whole.

In the new cover, it’s a lot more clear what type of book you’ll be getting when you read Undertow. This new image screams broken society, with the destroyed amusement park and tent city. There is unrest here, on a large scale. The tagline seals it: We’re getting a scary story. With monsters.

What do you think? Which cover do you like best? Undertow will be available in print and digitally May 5. Until then, why not check out some of our other Cover Breakdowns?

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