Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 20th 2016
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Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.
So this book was a difficult book for me to rate. On one hand, I really adored the message of this book and basically everything that this story represented. However, I also personally wasn’t completely able to look past some of the plot and characters. In my opinion, this story isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s especially not for people who aren’t into dark books or strong violence. This contains a solid amount of violence, and even some acts against animals, which I think people will likely have the most issues with. I also found myself struggling with the animal violence in the story, which I’ll explain more later on in my review. That being said, this was a fast paced story that was extremely intense, but it was far from perfect. I can’t say that this is my favorite, but I’m still happy that I read it.
There’s three main POV’s in this story. First we have Alex, who’s older sister was brutally raped and murdered years ago and her killer wasn’t arrested. Alex ends up taking matters into her own hands and killing him herself. I don’t consider this to be a spoiler since we learn this very early on in the book. Anyway, we can basically consider Alex to be like a younger Dexter who isn’t really a serial killer, she just believes in getting justice for those who are being wronged. We also have Peekay, which isn’t her real name, but everyone calls her that because she’s a Preacher’s Kid. I liked her, but I wasn’t sure what to make of her views on her parents and religion. She talked a lot about how she no longer believed in religion and said bad things about her parents, but I didn’t really understand why? I did think that she was a strong and powerful character as a whole. She was also a solid friend to Alex, and I enjoyed their friendship. Our final main character is Jack, who I probably liked the least. However, I do think that he evolved a lot as a character throughout the story. At the beginning, he was a major douchebag who only acted on his hormones. By the end of the story, he still was very much dominated by those hormones, but he was still a better person who had changed his way of thinking to an extent.
So one of the problems that I had with this book was the animal violence. Though it wasn’t exactly a major point of the plot, it still disturbed me that it was included at all. In the beginning, I was excited that Alex and Peekay both volunteered at the animal shelter. Though Alex can be a ridiculously violent person, she shows nothing but pure kindness towards animals. There were a few brief scenes that featured some really graphic instances of what happens when the shelter has to deal with dead animals. I think the point of the scene was that it showed extreme violence towards these animals, which brought out some equally violent images from Peekay, who views these as awful and wrong thoughts. Though I’ve tried to justify it to an extent, it still doesn’t make sense to me. I also felt disconnected from the characters a lot of the time. I respected the fact that this was a take on rape culture, but that still doesn’t mean that I really identified with the characters. I also realize that characters being likable isn’t a reason to like or not like a story, in this case though, I just wasn’t able to feel that much of an emotional attachment to the characters, mostly Jack. The ending also caused me to knock about half a star or even a full star off of it. It honestly caught me off guard entirely, it just didn’t feel like an appropriate ending to me!
The Female of the Species is a different kind of book to say the least. I’ve never read anything by Mindy McGinnis before but I’m sure I’ll pick up her stories in the future. This book was pretty well written. I think she did a solid job at making all three of these POV’s unique. That can be a particularly difficult thing to pull off, but the author did this with ease. This was an interesting take on rape culture that I’ve never really seen before. I seriously enjoyed this aspect of the book. There were just some other parts that I wasn’t a huge fan of and so that affected my rating. I do recommend it, but only to those who are okay with a good amount of violence.