Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Josie & Hannah: Literary Twins

I haven’t read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, but it’s the book I’m most often recommended by people who’ve also read Thirteen Reasons Why. After a quick look at what her book’s about, I can appreciate why.

…Peter Houghton, an alienated teen who has been bullied for years …brings weapons to his high school…and opens fire, killing 10 people. Flashbacks reveal how bullying caused Peter to retreat into a world of violent computer games. Alex Cormier, the judge assigned to Peter's case, tries to maintain her objectivity as she struggles to understand her daughter, Josie, one of the surviving witnesses of the shooting… (Publisher’s Weekly)

…Josie Cormier…should be the state's best witness, but she can't remember what happened before her very own eyes--or can she?… Nineteen Minutes asks what it means to be different in our society, who has the right to judge someone else, and whether anyone is ever really who they seem to be. (Product Desription on

It’s like Nineteen and Thirteen were twins born seven months apart!

Seriously. Twins.

See, while brainstorming book covers, designers have so many factors to weigh. It should grab your attention, set the right tone, and hopefully raise some questions. And while scrolling through stock photos looking for ideas, sometimes they find an image or expression which strikes the perfect note.

Apparently, Ms. Picoult’s German publisher and my U.K. publisher were going after a very similar look:

Whoever that model is, she should probably branch out. She’s quickly becoming typecast all over Europe.

(Thank you, C.L., for this very cool tip!)


StefanieEmmy said...

I've read "19 minutes" a few month before I read "13 reasons why". I never thought of the similarities before, but, well, they are obviously there! Thank you for that kick in the right direction ;)

btw I've read Jodi Picoults book in German and really liked the cover and when I saw the UK-cover of your book I just thought it looked so familiar but I didn't know why. So now I know. Thanks for that, too. :D

Lisa Yee said...

19 Minutes and 13 Reasons are both great books!!! (Let's just hope they don't use the same model for Lose 10 Pounds in 3 Days, or another title with numbers in it.)

Anonymous said...

(Thank you, C.L., for this very cool tip!)

You're welcome. I did order that German book shortly after I wrote my last comment. It arrived this morning and I'm really looking forward to start reading "19 Minuten". Have to finish another book first, and I'm a slow reader *sigh*

13RW was my first book in many years. Your book brought me back to reading, thanks for that.

Jay Asher said...

I must admit, it's pretty cool to share this with Ms. Picoult!

And now thank you again, C.L., for that wonderful compliment!

Alyssa said...

I saw "Thirteen Reasons Why" in B&N for the first time two days ago and was immediately captured by the description on the inside of the jacket.

I had a job interview near the store this morning, and ended up spending a few hours in the cafe reading the book cover to cover--I couldn't put it down.

It was suspenseful and smart and I could imagine Hannah's voice dripping dangerously with syrupy sweetness (alliteration!) every time she called someone on The List 'Honey'. It makes me want to read the book aloud to someone! (Which I intend to do as soon as I wrangle an audience.)

Amazing work. Thanks. :)

Jay Asher said...

I hope you got the job, Alyssa. As long as your words weren't "dripping dangerously with syrupy sweetness" during the interview, I'm sure you did fine. Or maybe that's what they were looking for!

Either way, thanks for the huge compliment and the wonderful description.

Alyssa said...

I'll find out on Monday--if you're that curious, you can follow my blog (if you do that :D).

I read your book to my roommate yesterday and today, and delighted in exploring Hannah's story--and all the bitterness, sadness, pity, and hatefulness involved.

Once again, thank you for this unique and somewhat unsatisfying (can anyone be truly satisfied learning an excuse for suicide?) book. I look forward to hearing more. :)

By the way, whatever happened to Skye?