Friday Faceoff – Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘it might have been’


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is mice, so I’ve chosen Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

This cover, produced by Mariner Books in May 2005, is the classic mouse in a maze. The red colour gives this cover punch and while I don’t normally like the blocks of colour featuring the title or author, the teal band at the bottom is part of the maze, which is far more elegant. I like this one.

This edition, produced in June 2004 by Harcourt Inc. Harvest Books also features a little white mouse. For some reason that escapes me, the cover designer thought that a white background would work. While I love the mouse and the font, this would have been so much more effective with another colour.

Published by Gollancz in 2000, this is yet another cover with a white mouse in the foreground. However, the backdrop is so much more interesting with a maze made of microcircuits in a beautiful cobalt blue. This one is my favourite.

This Romanian cover, produced by Editura Art in May 2013, is also another really effective cover. The backdrop is eye-catching and effective with the mottling – I’m not sure if it’s old blood or rust, either way, it looks disturbing. The little mouse looks small and vulnerable, while the maze – or is it a brain? – seems both makeshift and menacing.

This edition was produced by Harcourt, Brace and World in March 1966. This is the only cover that doesn’t include a mouse – instead the flowers of the title are featured in the middle of an ink blot. Again, I think this is yet another really strong contender. Which is your favourite?

24 responses »

  1. Ooooo, this is tough, Sarah! On the one hand, I LOVE the menace and coloring with the brain-shaped maze and the wee mouse. There’s something terrifying there. The bold-colored first one stands out (and you’re right, the color block for the author’s name WORKS for once!), but that one, and the second one, intrigue a little, but I guess that’s because there’s a mouse connected to a title about flowers. The circuit-board maze gives yet another strong impression of the sci-fi element. Gosh, I don’t think there’s been a more genre-crossing book cover in these Friday posts. Now I haven’t read this book (YET), but nearly every cover makes me think of a different genre: the inkblot makes me think psychological thriller, the circuits scifi, the brain maze suspense, the handwritten fault young adult, and the first mainstream lit. Wow!

    • Perhaps I’ll change my mind after I’ve read it – but as far as I can gather, none of these covers are bad – with the possible exception of the study in white…

  2. This was such a good read that it’s hard to decide on the best cover. It definitely has to be one with a maze. The Romanian one is good, I am very attracted to the cobalt blue, and the first isn’t bad either. Don’t make me choose…I’d pick up any of those three off the shelf to buy.

  3. This was one of the few books that made me cry. Such a sad story. I can’t remember which cover my version had, but I think it was probably the one with the cobalt blue maze.

  4. I absolutely love that Romanian cover! It’s very effective! The brain shaped maze is an intriguing idea… especially as I’ve never read this – I love a cover that gets me guessing!

    I also like the Masterworks edition… and the simplicity of the first two covers… and the simple beauty of the ink blot… great covers all round! 😀

  5. Pingback: The Friday Face-Off: Of All The Words of Mice and Men – Books by Proxy

  6. You totally need to read this book – it definitely packs a strong emotional punch. I’d love to see what you think of it.
    And, yes, same book and same cover choice this week – I love the SF Masterworks covers but there are some strong contenders – especially the ink blot.
    Lynn 😀

  7. I’m with you: I think the third one is the best. Also, because it does have a strong “sci-fi vibe” (even without the masterworks text). I like the concept of the Romanian one, and it’s pretty, but it wouldn’t convince me to get the book. I’d simply think it’s not something for me.

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