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Book Cover Appreciation

I recently went to a book signing promoting this book, “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. It was a concert/book signing combo event, so my ticket came with a free copy of the book. I didn’t get to ask during Q&A, but I found myself particularly intrigued by the cover.

“The Fault in Our Stars” is a comedy-drama revolving around the lives of cancer kids Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. Without delving into the plot, I found that it wasn’t until AFTER finishing the book that I had a new appreciation for the cover.

The color choices, dark blue, and the positioning of the overlapping black and white cloud-shapes, and the chalk font serve as layered symbolisms for life and death. The black and white clouds serve as a metaphor for the duality of life (and its flipside, death) and both main characters. The white cloud, life, still has a bit of black death in it. The black cloud, death, still has inklings of life that aren’t swallowed up yet. The use of cloud shapes can additionally be viewed as a symbol for the ever-changing shifts the characters go through, both physically and emotionally.

Additionally, the chalk font became exceedingly poignant to me upon finishing the book. At first I thought chalk was just used as a stylistic choice or because the book revolves around young people, but I now believe it’s a metaphor for the temporariness of life. Chalk is what we write in when we plan to erase what we’ve written, and when using it to represent characters with cancer it demonstrates just how quickly and easily they can be erased, so to speak.

It’s also a damn good book, so everyone should definitely read it. It’s the first book-book I’ve read since Harry Potter like four years ago.

Has anyone else had any times where a book or movie cover came to life after experiencing the story it held?


  1. kwalter wrote:

    I really like the parallel you made between life and chalk, and couldn’t help but think that you could also equate situation (since there’s a chalkboard used in the illustration) to perhaps there being a second chance for everyone (especially cancer patients) since we can always start over/rewrite what will happen in our life.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink
  2. Randall Parrish wrote:

    Touché, Kristina! One of the characters loses his eyes to cancer, but remains cancer free for the rest of the book. The book occasionally talks about recovering completely versus going into remission. Chalk definitely does make a typographic display of the flexibility and impermanence of their situation.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Permalink
  3. kwalter wrote:

    Going off what you said, the chalk as a typographic element also works as a way to differentiate the book from others. I can’t say I know any other book that uses chalk as part of its cover, and since that is the case I’m pretty sure I’ll now very easily be able to pick the book out in a bookstore. Also, I think maybe because the chalk aspect is so memorable, perhaps the stories will be memorable for me too (or maybe it reflects how these cancer patients had a memorable effect on the author??)

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Permalink
  4. mguinand wrote:

    From the book cover alone, knowing me I would probably pick this up and want to know more about it. I love though how you explained the book and then found out the meaning for the design on the cover because I would have never guessed that! I can definitely see why they did what the did; you’re explanation makes the cover so much more meaningful.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink