Originally published in Australia last lear June, Wildlife hit the international arena this year — April in Germany and the past week in the USA. The German title, Wilder Sommer doesn’t deviate too much from the English titles. Translated it means “wild summer” which is pretty clear, in my opinion.
Oddly, this isn’t the first cover I saw of it. The first time I learnt about this book it was because of the German title. The US cover made the rounds over the past weeks during the lead-up to publication. I looked up the Australian cover because I learnt that Fiona Wood is an Australian author. Well, when I found it, I was disappointed. It looks rather unimaginative to me.
The title looks like it’s supposed to emulate the style of chalk, although it’s supposed to be reminiscent of clouds against the blue sky. There’s a good idea behind that but I wasn’t impressed by the execution. Some ideas just sound good in theory but not when actually applied to a design. That’s the case for the the Australian cover of Wildlife.
In fact, on closer inspection, I think the font used for the title is one of the standard fonts bundled with Apple Macs. Just one glance and I immediately thought of that font. So yeah, to me it looks like someone took their camping snapshot, amped up the colours and slapped on the title. I doubt I would’ve paid any attention to the book if I had seen this cover first.
Then again, maybe it’s supposed to reflect the self-sufficiency required in the wilderness. Still, I think it looks bland.
Colours that pop always attract me. The cover looks like it was inspired by psychedelia, so I was pretty curious what story lay behind it. The juxtaposition of the photographic image of the girl and grass with the illustrative mountains and star-speckeled night sky is a convincing attempt at standing out. It’s not a cover I could have ever ignored.
In a way, it looks like the girl was uprooted from somewhere and forced into the setting. As much as she seems to be out of place, she still looks to be at peace, dreaming away unconcerned. Based on the synopsis, that’s also the sense that I get because the protagonist is on an exchange semester.
The US cover integrated the title and the background splendidly. I like how the sky and the treetops fill the letters. Once again, it’s the vibrancy of the blue and green that drew me to the cover.
What struck me as odd was how unhappy the girl and the guy on the cover seem. There they are, sulking right under the glorious trees and sky. Or maybe they’re just tired? I can’t tell for sure but there’s no trace of gladness. In a way, it does fit with the mentions of betrayal and loss in the synopsis.
All three covers represent the setting and make it clear that it’s out in the wild, or in the very least, it is outdoors. While I can’t tear myself away from colours that pop, I also like understated covers — quieter ones, if you will. The German cover is a little too overwhelming for me, so I prefer the US book cover. The German cover then is a close second and the Australian cover severely lags behind.