Tag Archives: Kristin Cashore

Generally Bookish: On Book Trailers

Tomorrow, Marie Lu’s debut novel, Legend, will be released amid an impressive amount of hype for a young adult book. Between book blogs and Goodreads, I’ve been hearing about Legend for at least a month¹, and yesterday, a mostly positive review was printed in the Los Angeles Times. The basic plot—dystopian, of course—sounds right up my alley, and I’m pretty much sold on buying and reading it as soon as possible.

But here comes the “but”: last night I watched the book trailer for Legend, and the degree to which I cringed throughout was almost physically uncomfortable:

Let’s first acknowledge that nothing exists in a vacuum. Penguin, I’m sure, put a lot of thought and effort into marketing Legend, and this video is but one small piece of the puzzle. What’s more, the Penguin PR team has clearly done its job, as evidenced by my writing about this book well before I’ve actually read it.

However, why on earth would anyone think that this trailer is a good idea? The bad voice acting, the graphics that evoke computer games circa 1998…it’s as though there’s someone, somewhere, who wants to embarrass anyone who wants to read this book. I mean, I’m at the core of the target demographic², and I  found it off-putting.

Which brings us to my main question: if a book trailer doesn’t pique one’s interest, if it potentially repels, then what’s the point?

For the sake of comparison, I decided to look up the book trailers for some of my favorite reads of 2011. Here’s what was done in 2009 for Kristin Cashore’s Fire, a book so good, I’ve already read it twice³:

Again, let’s acknowledge something upfront: unlike movies, books don’t come with a bank of footage that can be cut into a truly excellent trailer. And any attempt to put a voice or face to a particular book or character is going to be met with resistance from some fans, no matter how carefully one treads.

And yet…really? A (faux?) British accent, Brigan awkwardly wielding what looks like a katana, and something about desire destroying the Dells? I would cry, were it not for the knowledge that this video is not the main, let alone only, means by which one is likely to discover this wonderful book.

Which again begs the question: what is the point of a book trailer? Why bother with one if it’s not able to stand alone in support of the book it features? And is there any way to create a successful trailer for a medium that is not inherently visual?

After further exploration, I’ve decided that book trailers improve the second they eschew voice overs of any kind. Little, Brown and Company got this right with their trailer for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, though I remain undecided about the video as a whole:

Having read (and loved) Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I question the packaging of the story, plus the video is fast cut, making the text difficult to read. Still, the graphics are pretty, and the overall feel is a step up from Legend and Fire.

To be honest, I’ve seen only one book trailer that actually increased my interest in reading its particular book, and this is for A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness:

Based on this trailer, I have some understanding of what this book is about, and more importantly, I trust that understanding and want to know more. Moreover, I have some idea as to how this book will make me feel—and I don’t think it’s coincidental that this trailer is for an already illustrated novel. There was no need to draw imagery from scratch, only to animate variations of what was already included, and this connection to the origianl lends the entire video authenticity.

I’m curious to know what others think about book trailers: whether or not they’re regularly sought out and watched, and how they might be made more effective as publishing houses continue to embrace the Internet as a way to cultivate interest in books. (And if you’ve seen any particularly wonderful trailers, please send them my way!)

¹Goodreads tells me I added Legend to my “to-read” shelf on November 1st.
²Likely +10 years, but hey—at least I have a disposable income!
³In the Katsa vs. Fire debate, I am 100% Team Fire.


Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten TuesdayCreated and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for those who love lists and want to get to know their fellow bloggers. Each week features a new theme, and anyone may participate. This week’s theme is…

Top Ten Authors I’d Invite over for Thanksgiving

Philip PullmanPhilip Pullman. To be honest, meeting Philip Pullman in any capacity would be a dream come true. Of all the thousands of books that I’ve read, Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy has has the most formative effect on my life, and I’m convinced he’d be an amazing conversationalist on almost any subject.

James BaldwinJames Baldwin. Giovanni’s Room was assigned to me for a basic survey of American literature course, yet it wound up being one of the most important books I read in college. It’s not YA, but it deals heavily with what is possibly the most important YA theme—identity—and Baldwin’s writing is simply beautiful.

Tamora PierceTamora Pierce. Earlier this year, I realized that I’ve been reading books by Tamora Pierce for more than 15 years. I’ve since (re)read all 17 Tortall books, and I can now say that no other author has such longstanding effect on me as a reader, a woman, and a feminist.

Kristin CashoreKristin Cashore. Fire was the very first book I read in 2011, and it continues to rank as one of my favorites of the year. In lieu of more books about Fire and Brigan, I would gladly accept dinnertime conversation about women, feminism, and what inspired her to write about Monsters and the Dells.

Madeline L'EngleMadeline L’Engle. I always associate Madeline L’Engle with reading in the loft bed at my grandparents house, probably because all of L’Engle’s books are there, left on the shelves by my aunt after she grew up and moved away. L’Engle is a true queen of YA literature, and though it’s been a while since I read any of her books (tsk), she’ll always stand out as a favorite.

Brian JacquesBrian Jacques. I was struggling to come up with a tenth author, but then I read i swim for oceans’s Top Ten Tuesday post, and my choice became clear: of course Brian Jacques is invited! Martin the Warrior is one of the first books I remember crying over (Rose!), and, please, just look at that cheery smile!

Laura Ingalls-Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder. My parents gave me a copy of Little House in the Big Woods when I was 5? 6? And These Happy Golden Years was the first chapter book I ever read on my own—my dad had been reading it aloud to me, but one day, I got impatient and finished it on my own. I think Laura is responsible for my love for stories of westward expansion, and how amazing would it be to listen to her stories during dinner?

Patricia C. WredePatricia C. Wrede. One of the first book reviews I ever wrote was of Dealing with Dragons (as a home-schooler, this is what I did with my spare time), and this past summer, I read both of Frontier Magic books, which makes me think it’d be fascinating to listen to Wrede talk to Wilder*.

Sarah DessenSarah Dessen. Surely you didn’t think I’d leave off my favorite contemporary YA authors, and of those, Sarah Dessen is #1. This Lullaby is my all-time favorite of hers, but ultimately I love everything she writes, and I buy each new book immediately upon release. From what I’ve seen of public appearances, she is an absolute darling. I want to be her BFF.

Megan McCaffertyMegan McCafferty. Bumped may have been less than expected, but Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie will be amazing forever. I love McCafferty’s taste in pop culture, so I know we’d have a lots to talk about, and I would use her presence at my Thanksgiving dinner to shamelessly lobby for Aubrey Plaza to be cast as movie adaptation Jessica.

What about you? Which authors would you invite to your Thanksgiving dinner?

*I am so frustrated that I couldn’t find a black and white picture of Patricia C. Wrede!