I burbled a bit about The Hunger Games on Monday, in Bargain Books, and if you cast your minds back, you might remember that I also made mention of them last Thursday, in my review of Julianna Baggot's disappointing Pure. So obviously the marketing campaign for the new movie has done the trick!
Not that that's the point I mean to make. Bear with me a moment here, and we'll find our way back to the start. First we need to factor in a third thing: another notable dystopia. Indeed, one near and dear to many hearts.
That'd be the Uglies books, by Scott Westerfeld.
Very recently Simon & Schuster revealed "incredible" new covers for all three volumes. Actually, for three of the four... because trilogies are the in thing, I suspect, and anyway Extras occupies an odd spot in the series. But here, in any event, are the new jackets:
Utterly unremarkable, aren't they?
Which is a shame, on several fronts: in the first, because this series had some pretty damn decent covers to begin with - use your google-fu, folks - but largely because with The Hunger Games in ascendance, this might be the moment to win over a fair few new readers, and these new editions aren't going to earn any admirers.
Or are they?
As a matter of fact, I think they might.
Because Simon & Schuster's marketing department hasn't entirely missed its chance to piggyback the Uglies books on this latest wave of love for The Hunger Games. Quite the contrary: you probably can't see the text at the top of each of the images embedded above, so let's recap.
Which is... well. You tell me.
I don't suppose I'm terribly offended. On behalf of the series, that is. I don't think the new jackets are going to entirely outmode the old covers, and maybe a simple message like this will bring renewed interest in Scott Westerfeld's work. Hard-earned interest, I should stress. Westerfeld's quite the writer, and I can't imagine anyone who reads the Uglies because they want something not dissimilar from The Hunger Games will go home disappointed.
Still, the idea of selling one work on the merits of another troubles me somewhat, and I want to know: what do you guys think about this sort of... referential marketing? Good, bad, or butt-ugly?
And another thing. If we extend the question out a bit, how do reviews which make such comparisons sit with you?
Let's bring things full circle with a for instance. In my review of Pure - which is here - I didn't just namecheck Suzanne Collins' sensational trilogy, I took Baggot's book to task (in part) because I felt it lacked The Hunger Games' heart, and the two texts were similar enough in every other sense that I thought it'd be disingenuous of me to omit the mention. Was that a helpful sort of shorthand, or simply lazy criticism?
Honestly, I can't quite decide myself...
So how do you folks feel about all this?
Let's talk it out in the comments! :)