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The Many Covers of Sunshine

So we bloggers as a whole spend a fair amount of time dissecting cover art and the pros and cons of US vs. UK covers, hard vs. paperback, originals vs. reissues. I get just as excited as the next girl about the latest and greatest--see my angel book cover post from a few weeks back. And most books go through a handful of different covers and styles over the course of their lives, some more attractive and more accurate than others. But how often does a book go through three, say four different covers and every single last one of them are made of win? Not that often, I'm afraid. Then yesterday I ran across the newest reissue of a book I have been in love with for almost seven years--Robin McKinley's Sunshine. This book has been just extremely lucky in the cover department, in my opinion.

Here are the first two U.S. covers (hardback on the left, trade paperback on the right):
I love them both. So much. They are perfect, they're both drawn from one of my absolutely favorite scenes in the book, and they evoke the exact feelings and emotions I have when I think of Sunshine herself and the events of the story.

And here are the UK covers:
Both also awesome in their Britishy, subdued yet slightly threatening way. And both feature allusions to some subtler themes in the book.

And now here's the upcoming YA paperback reissue from Speak, due out April 29th:
Completely different in tone, I love the blood dripping off the bottom of the N and the way it seeps through the curling vines below. I'm frankly delighted that they're marketing Sunshine to YA readers now. It's a book, as I've long said, that deserves a wider audience and I think many YA readers will love it. If you've never read it before, maybe this new edition coming out in just a few days will be the perfect time to try it out. And if the cover's not enough try reading Neil Gaiman's quote on reading the book for the first time:
I woke up too early, so started reading Robin McKinley's forthcoming novel Sunshine, in the bath. It's an astonishing piece of work. A gripping, funny, page-turning pretty much perfect work of magical literature that exists more or less at the unlikely crossroads of Chocolat, Interview With a Vampire, Misery and the tale of Beauty and the Beast. It's not quite SF, and it's not really horror, and only kind of a love story, and it's all three while still being solidly Fantastique. It also does that nice thing where the author assumes the readers are smart, and she treats us like we're smart, and we purr and get smarter and work harder for all that. It'll be nominated for awards, and win them; in the meantime I really hope it finds its audience, which is, potentially, huge.
So that's not three, not four, but five very attractive, very different covers for a single awesome book. I often find myself loving Robin McKinley covers, but I don't know if anyone's ever been this fortunate with that many covers for just one book and I just thought I'd share the love. I own the top two U.S. covers because (I tell myself) I've got to have a lender copy on hand. I would be delighted to own the two UK covers, but haven't ordered them yet because of pesky shipping costs. But I can already see myself in just over a week when this latest one releases, standing in the bookstore having a conversation with myself (and my bank account) and, for some reason, I have no trouble at all picturing me walking out with the book in hand.

Do you have any favorite single-title cover collections? Even if you haven't read or loved the book, which is your favorite Sunshine cover above? (I still love that original U.S. cover with the chandelier and the deep tingles it gave me back when all I knew of the book was it was Robin McKinley taking on vampires. But I really, really love the U.S. paperback as well because it's that scene.) And do you crave ownership of single-title cover collections or are you stronger than me and able to admire the pretties from afar? 


  1. ack, i just read Sunshine for the first time last month and had the cover with her chained to the wall in a ray of sunlight. loved that cover the best, and loved those scenes where she was imprisoned in the house with him the best. i think. there are so many good ones to choose from.

    and although i know its super annoying for readers to keep saying this, i have to mention that i SO WISH there were a sequel!

  2. I read the trade paper cover from the library, but bought the book (in mass market ppbk) and it had the original hard cover cover on it. I like the trade paperback, just a bit more.

  3. Like you, I'm partial to the first two covers you show because they both so accurately portray that awesome scene in the book. My favorite, too.

    I read the mass market paperback version with the first cover as its cover art, but gave my copy away to a friend. I know! What was I thinking?!

    I do like the cover art to new YA paperback issue. Maybe my teen will want it and I'll have the excuse to get a copy of the book back on our shelves at home. :D

  4. Oh, I love this book! It is one of those rare books that, while I was still in the middle of reading it the first time, I already knew I'd be rereading it at some point. I'll be interested to see how it fares as a YA book - it's a bit subtle for the typical Twilight enthusiast, but who knows?

  5. I always feel like I'm wasting valuable bookshelf space by having more than one copy of the same book, so I'm mildly obsessed with finding the best of all possible covers. Fortunately I like the cover I have of Sunshine (the chandelier one), although all of these are goooorgeous.

  6. Eeek, that book looks frightening. And yet, I want to read it...

    In answer to your question, I'm really not into covers. I love to look at pretty ones, but I would rather own an "ugly" book with wonderful story than a "pretty" book with just an okay story.

  7. I have the chandelier cover and while I love the other covers, one copy of the book is fine with me. LOL - although my copy is getting a little worn because Sunshine is one of the books I re-read when I need a pick me up. Maybe I'll pick up a different cover if I ever need to replace mine.

  8. Ohhh I want a copy of the UK one on the left!

    Have you checked out Free shipping to most parts of the world...

    Not sure how I feel about the YA reprint, or whether it will appeal to teens, but I suppose that if they marketed Margo Lanagan's beautiful Tender Morsels as YA, they might be able to find a decent audience for Sunshine...

  9. Never heard of this book before, but I'll go check it out.
    I love the newest cover the most as it is bright just like the title. The others are pretty, but don't say 'Sunshine' if you know what I mean.

  10. If the gold cover is metallic shiny I'm going to buy it.

  11. I love this book! My local bookstore never seems to have copies in stock, so maybe now I'll finally snag a copy of my own (I do love the YA cover!). I am fond of the chandelier cover though, since that was the version I got from the library when I first read it.

    I also agree this book needs a sequel! I will say it a million times if I have to, even if it gets very played out.

  12. We also have the 2nd US cover here now - with Sunshine chained up. That's the new UK version, except for some bizarre reason the publisher decided to put the Gaiman cover quote on the BACK of the book, and use a quote from SFX Magazine on the front.

    The other two UK covers are oldies now. Possibly out of print?


  13. I love the paperback cover--I'm a sucker for sparkle!

  14. Oh yes. This book has some truly good covers. I love the 2 original US ones because - they are THAT SCENE, especially the hardback. It's the one I first read and love the colors and the contained drama. And yay that they are marketing it to YA fans! Good choice Speak - your readers will thank you.

  15. Lusty, last month!? Awesome. I'm happy people are still discovering it and reading it. And, yes, every moment in that old house with him is golden. And I know Ms. McKinley's pretty tired of hearing requests for a sequel, but I also know (from reading her blog) that she's got on in the pipeline. Or rather, a sequel that is not a sequel, as she puts it. It takes place in the same world, roughly awhile after SUNSHINE. Different characters. That's as much as I know, but honestly I will take anything I can get!

    Laura, it's a close call, isn't it? Which is why I own both. *grin*

    Christine, I do that all the time as well. In fact, just the other day I realized I no longer own CLOCKWORK HEART (a favorite) because I gave it away. Had to replace it as I've been in need of some good, comfort reads lately.

    Darla, exactly! Don't you love that feeling mid-book? And I agree on the subtlety. It's an insanely more sophisticated book as well. Though I'm hoping there will be some crossover fans.

    Jenny, and that's a fun obsession to have as well. ;) I'd probably get more creative if I held myself to that rule.

    Emily, *dangles copy* you know you want to read it...

    lol. And I agree completely. Though my favorite is when they match. Which sentiment prompted this post. Another lovely example is MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD. Synergy of cover and story.

    Misti, there you go! And I do feel decadent sometimes owning multiple editions of the same book. It's a disease.

    Steph, isn't it great? That's the one I'd order first as well. I actually went to Book Depository to check prices on these and the site was down as a result of the volcano, etc. Wow!

    As far as a YA audience, it will be interesting to see for sure.

    Sully, I love hearing an opinion from someone who hasn't read it yet. I hadn't thought of the new cover that way but you're right. It fits the title very well and I'd love to hear what you thought after reading it.

    Janice, oooh. YES. Now I've got my fingers crossed for foil.

    Marianna, lol, say it as much as you like. I'm with you. And like I said above, I'll take a sequel-type-book-thing in any form she's got one.

    It's interesting how, with books we love, we form an attachment to the cover of the copy we first read! More emotional energy goes into that first reading experience than we're aware of at the time, I think.

    Kaz, ha! Interesting choice on the cover copy quote. And, yeah, those two UK covers I put up were the first ones they released it in. Too bad if they're OOP now. I thinks they're pretty.

    Melissa, lol. Aren't we all? Like Janice said, if it's metallic and shiny I'm buying it. Period.

    Michelle, exactly. DH agrees with you on the contained drama of the original cover, btw. Says it conveys the tone so well without giving anything away. Very true.

  16. I like the newest cover best, I think.

  17. I must say, I love my trade paperback copy. I think its just so...pretty, you know?

  18. Love the top 2 covers...this is on my TBR shelf..can't wait :)

  19. Anonymous4:25 PM

    The only copy I have is a very plain-covered (and greatly worn, now) ARC.

    The covers are all lovely in their own right, but I think I'll be picking up the reissue. I need a spare copy, especially since my niece has just started raiding my bookshelves.

  20. I have a mass market edition with the chandelier cover. I think the one with the chained Sunshine is better. That gold one is really pretty though! I might consider getting that if I see it here.

  21. Wow..that's alot of covers..I like the one where she's chained up the best. I've heard such mixed reviews about this book..only love or hate but no middle of the road peeps. Since you liked it so much maybe I need to ignore the nay-sayers and check it out :D

  22. Ok, so speaking of the fabulous Robin McKinley. I got to pick the book for our ward book club this month so I decided it was time to introduce them to the world of McKinley. So, I picked the Hero and the Crown.....classic right?? NOBODY LIKES IT!!!! They said they don't understand what she is saying and it is confusing. I am baffled. I need to be more patient with this group since most are not readers, but holy cow. I thought I was going easy on them with a simple but classic fantasy......but it was over their heads......frustration. o-well, I'll enjoy it by myself.

    p.s. I just picked up the 4th book in the Queen's thief series and I am dieing to crack it. I need to hurry and reread the hero and the crown so I can devour this next book. eeeeeeeek

  23. I like the trade paperback cover myself, it's lovely and atmospheric. But - although this may be blasphemous, I'm not a fan of Sunshine. I found the final showdown rather anticlimactic, and I dislike reading about characters who deny themselves and what they can do - and to me it felt like Sunshine spent most of the book running away from herself. It's not a bad trope, just one that I don't enjoy.

    And I personally found the sex scene rather jarring when I first read the novel, so I wonder a bit at the decision to market this to the YA crowd. Not that I'm saying YA readers shouldn't have sex in their books or anything, and I don't actually remember whether anything was explicit - I read it so long ago. But that was the first thing I wrote in my reading journal, and it stuck with me that I didn't like the way sex was handled...

  24. Sunshine!!!! I freaking LOVE Robin McKinley. I kinda fangirl stare at her tweets everytime she does so... The one I read was the red one, the first one, and I love it, probably because of that. :) Sunshine!!


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