The Female of the Species
By Mindy McGinnis
Summary: 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.
Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from the library
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WHY aren’t more people talking about this book?!
The Female of the Species looks like your average contemporary with the bright cover and quirky title. But underneath, it was a brutal and fierce book that pushes the ugliness of rape culture in your face. It’s full of cussing, screwed up situations, and violence, but it was a sucker punch I think we all need.
On second thought, I’m actually glad that since it’s not the book everyone is raving about, at least it’s not in the spotlight of public outrage about what is appropriate in YA. I feel like there’s a big issue with people scrutinizing what is okay for YA fiction and if too much language or sex or violence is counterproductive or even triggering. I’ve always been in the camp that reading stories like this one SHOULD be uncomfortable to some degree because teens are cussing, drinking having sex, and dealing with a lot of issues that no one, including their parents, ever seem to talk about. Let’s talk about it and be real. There is even a scene that talks about talking about stuff like that and being In-Your-Face about it to get people’s attention. Tiptoeing around an issue won’t help people truly understand it.
I think the synopsis makes it sound like some romance between Jack and Alex, making me expect a much more run of the mill contemporary romance, but that was not what the book was at all. Alex was a brutal person who decided she had enough of behaviors and people slipping through the cracks. While Jack and Alex had a connection and ended up attempting to explore it, the story was more about the small town, groups of friends, and Alex’s place in an ugly and unfair world.
I loved Peekay. She was my favorite character because she had spunk and she treated Alex like something other than the girl with the dead sister.
The Female of the Species is a 100% necessary book. It talked about rape culture, the way that girls are treated differently, the fact that no one ever seems to want to deal with sexual assault or talk about it. It also dealt with stereotypes and I absolutely LOVED that it didn’t vilify the promiscuous girl and instead asked why it mattered whether she got around or not. Maybe half the rumors about her aren’t true, but so what if they are? It was a book about the awfulness of people and the goodness in them, too.
The book is NOT for those sensitive to violence, sexual assault, or animal cruelty. None of those behaviors are excused in the book, but they do occur.
I highly recommend it. I was going to rate it 4 stars at first, but the story has stayed with me for a couple of days and I found myself wishing I knew more readers to recommend it to, so I just had to bump it up to five stars.
You see it in all animals – the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
I live in a world where not being molested as a child is considered luck.
Opportunity is what matters, nothing else… I’m telling you… It doesn’t matter. What you were wearing. What you look like. Nothing. Watch the nature channel. Predators go for the easy prey.
But boys will be boys, our favorite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll.