Cover Characteristics: Book Covers featuring Disability

 
 

I’ve been wanting to do this post for a while since I talk a lot about disability in books on my blog and have the list of sci-fi/fantasy books with disability and everything, but let me tell you, there are NOT a lot of book covers out there that show any sort of visible disability on them. Especially sci-fi/fantasy books, which is what I like to focus on. A lot of disabilities are invisible, and half the time, even when they aren’t, the covers don’t show them.

But I did manage to find some! Credit goes to this post at Disability in KidLit about disability on book covers for helping me find a few I hadn’t found on my own. (It’s also just a great post that you should check out.) I haven’t read all these books though, so I make no claims as to how accurate or good the portrayal of disability in the story is. This post is solely about sharing some great covers that show disability :-)

 

 
The Ables by Jeremy Scott
Night Sky by Suzanne Brockmann
Synthesis: Weave by Deane Saunders-Stowe
Life as a Teenage Vampire by Amanda Meuwissen
The Antagonists: Book One by Burgandi Rakoska
Left Alive #2 by Jeremy Laszlo
The Least by Michael John Grist
The Ledberg Runestone by Patrick Donovan
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (Italian Edition)
 

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Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (Italian Edition)
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (Portuguese Edition)
 

All of these are pretty (especially the Italian Edition which is the first one) and so fantasy-esque. Plus they all show the character’s walking stick!

 

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
 

I saw this cover a million times and never even noticed the prosthetic arm until it was pointed out. And the cover has unique, colorful artwork!

 

The Ledberg Runestone by Patrick Donovan

The Ledberg Runestone by Patrick Donovan
 

This one has a character with a cane, plus that pretty, glowy, magical urban fantasy look. The bright colors really attract the eye!

 

The Least by Michael John Grist

The Least by Michael John Grist
 

A man in a wheelchair facing down zombies, you don’t see that very often in books! I like the silhouette look and the whole post-apoc feel.

 

Left Alive #2 by Jeremy Laszlo

Left Alive #2 by Jeremy Laszlo
 

I like the artwork, not to mention the post-apoc-style homemade hand replacement.

 

The Antagonists Series by Burgandi Rakoska

The Antagonists: Book One by Burgandi Rakoska
The Antagonists: Book Two by Burgandi Rakoska
 

These are so pretty!

 

Life as a Teenage Vampire by Amanda Meuwissen

Life as a Teenage Vampire by Amanda Meuwissen
 

I like the artwork on this one too, and there’s so much detail in the prosthetic.

 

Synthesis: Weave by Deane Saunders-Stowe

Synthesis: Weave by Deane Saunders-Stowe
 

To be honest, I didn’t even notice the guy climbing the side of the mountain with his wheelchair until I looked at a large version of the cover, but I love that! And the whole cover looks great and crisp and has an awesome sci-fi vibe, even the text.

 

My Favorite #1:
Night Sky by Suzanne Brockmann

Night Sky by Suzanne Brockmann
 

I love the faded look and the use of silhouettes.

 

My Favorite #2:
The Ables by Jeremy Scott

The Ables by Jeremy Scott
 

Again, I love the use of silhouettes, but I also love the stark color contrast in this one, the font, and the placement of the text!

 
 
 
 

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Which book cover featuring disability is YOUR favorite?

 

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Book Covers featuring Disability | reading, books, book covers, cover love, disability
 
 
 
 
 

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  1. Greg

    I think Synthesis Weave is my favorite, it has that photorealistic yet otherwordly vibe that I’m drawn to. And I like the third Odd and the Frost Giants cover too, where the giant almost seems like part of the landscape. Night Sky is awesome too, I do like that kind of weathered look. Plus the silhouettes and greenish tint.

    Greg recently posted: Sunday Post #233

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, it’s such a crisp, clear cover, but it also has an otherworldly vibe. And those Odd ones are great too. I do really like that weathered look! And silhouettes are often great.

  2. Lola

    Now that you mention it, there really are few covers that show a disability. The only cover I can think of from the top of my head is one of the Amanda Lester books that show side character Ivy with dark glasses and her guide dog on it. Which is still pretty subtle. And I have read a few books with a prosthetic or cyborg part on the cover, like Erin Hayes’ sci-fi books. Although I am sure there are more books I’ve read with disability on the cover that I can’t think of right now.

    I’ve seen that Nimano cover quite often, but never realized there was a prosthetic on it. And now that I know it seems so obvious. The cover for The Ledberg Runestone is great, and I like how it’s such a clear urban fantasy cover with all the colors and also show the disability. The covers for the Antagonists books are great too! They really catch the eye and they seem so romantic somehow. The Night Sky cover is well done with those silhouettes and that somehow makes the wheelchair even more obvious.

    Lola recently posted: Sunday Post #270

    1. Kristen Burns

      There really aren’t very many. It’s hard to show blindness, so I think that cover sounds like it does a great job!

      Glad to know it wasn’t just me who didn’t notice the prosthetic right away. I love that the Ledberg cover actually shows the disability while still being a kickass UF cover! The Antagonists ones are so pretty, and they do have a romantic kind of look. And the silhouette ones work great!

  3. sjhigbee

    I think you’ve nailed it Kristen with your particular choice which is lovely. I was going to suggest the cover for ‘Among Others’ by Jo Walton which features a protagonist with a heavy limp, but only the Polish cover has the girl leaning on a stick… And also the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold features the hero as being suffering congenital birth defects, those don’t make it onto any of the covers…

  4. Emily

    These are so great! Because you’re right, book covers don’t portray characters with disability often. I’m definitely going to check out The Ledberg Runestone because I LOVE urban fantasy!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it necessarily being obvious though? It’s just part the character, you know? But some disabilities are harder or nearly impossible to portray since they’re invisible.

  5. Rebeccah @ The Pixie Chronicles

    Wow, what a wonderful idea for a post! I admit, there were some covers that I didn’t even notice the disability rep until you pointed them out. But either way, I still think the concept of sharing these kinds of covers is amazing and really fresh since I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do that before.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! Definitely, whether it’s obvious or subtle, it’s just great for covers to show disability rep! I like to spread awareness about disability rep in books, and I like sharing book covers, so it was the perfect combo :-P

  6. Olivia Roach

    I remember when I first ever saw the book Night Sky in a review, it struck me because it had a person with a disability on the cover! Having them as silhouettes was very effective. It has left its impression on me since and I fully intend to read it. I’m always looking for more books with characters with physical disabilities as well.

    Olivia Roach recently posted: My True Love… [Nails Extravaganza]

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, it’s so rare to find disability shown on a cover, even when it’s part of the book! But that’s frustrating since disability isn’t some ugly thing that should be hidden. I hope you like the book!

  7. Tizzy Brown

    This is great! I couldn’t even think of one cover featuring someone with a disability, but I’m glad there are some out there. We definitely need a wider variety of disabilities to be represented in fiction.

    Tizzy Brown recently posted: On my Wishlist (11)

  8. Lilyn G

    I’ve actually read The Ables (the only one on this list) and really liked it. Unfortunately, I liked it a lot more until someone pointed out that their disabilities were all effectively overcome within pages, making the whole point of having them be disabled kind of pointless.

    “Oh look, we have disabled characters —- chapter later — but that has absolutely no effect because look how they’ve overcome it!”

    Still, was an entertaining story.

  9. Bookworm Brandee

    Wow! These are great covers and I would’ve never thought about how difficult it would be to find covers that display disabilities. :/ I didn’t see the guy hanging from the side of the mountain in the cover for Synthesis: Weave either. I’m glad you pointed it out. :) I really like the cover for The Ledberg Runestone – that guy is rocking his cane. But I think I’ll have to agree with you on The Ables. Not only is the cover cool but I really like the title. ;)

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: #COYER Review ~ Sparrow ~ L.J. Shen #ShelfLove

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, it’s hard finding books with disabled characters, even harder finding ones that show it on the cover, and then I wanted them to be *good* covers too. He really is rocking his cane, right?! The Ables is a great one!

  10. Cam

    I haven’t read any of these books but I’ve seen Nimona and didn’t even notice that! Wow! These covers are so cool…I especially like The Least :o

  11. Stephanie Jane

    In a random coincidence my LitFlits featured book today, Necessities by Boyd Taylor, shows disability on its cover and I love the image too.
    But I’m struggling to think of any other books I’ve read that do the same. This is one of those ‘now that you mention it’ thoughtful posts

    Stephanie Jane recently posted: Necessities by Boyd Taylor + #Giveaway

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh, cool, I’ll have to go look! It is hard to find in covers though, and yeah, it’s one of those things you don’t really notice until it’s mentioned or you start looking.

  12. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks

    Oh yeah… I guess it’s similar with covers as it is with movies or clothes displays. Like how they’ll have a healthy person play someone disabled, instead of actually hiring a disabled actor. Infuriating :/

    LOL yes, I also had to look long and hard to find the disability on the Nimona cover :D it’s so natural though. Takes a while to notice.

    This is a really cool post you’ve made :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, disability doesn’t get much visible rep anywhere :-/

      Lol apparently almost no one noticed the prosthetic on Nimona. It is just really natural looking!

      Thanks :-)

  13. Amanda Meuwissen

    I have been scrambling for time to comment on this and share it, as I love the topic and these other books to check out, and am honored to be counted among them with Life as a Teenage Vampire.

    It was very important to me to make sure Connor’s prosthetic was visible on the cover, as it’s an integral part of the story. While sort of fantastical in its design and use, I love the way the art turned out, and I have really appreciated the comments from readers with prosthetics who enjoyed that touch.

    It’s fascinating for me to research the progress actual prosthetics have been undergoing the past few years, especially as someone who has known both amputees and people born without full limbs. It’s great to see a blog post putting disabilities in fiction at the forefront like this, especially using the covers.

    Thanks again!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I love the cover for Teenage Vampire! And I love that you made sure to include the prosthetic because, like you said, it’s part of the character and it’s part of the story.

      I ended up being curious and doing some research after reading your book (though not as much as you, I’m sure), and I watched a bunch of videos, and it really is amazing the advances they’re making with prosthetics. One day, everyone will have robotic ones that will work almost as well as flesh-and-blood limbs. It’s incredible that it’s even possible to control prosthetics with your mind at all.

      Thanks, I love spreading awareness about disability through books! And no problem :-)

  14. karen

    This is such a great collection of covers. I wouldn’t have even noticed some if you hadn’t pointed them out. Cinder is also a bit disabled since she has some mechanical parts. That’s the only one I would have been able to come up with. I think The Ables is my favorite one. Thanks for sharing these!