I received this book for free from BEA16 in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Published by HarperCollins on 2016-09-20
Genres: Contemporary, Thrillers, Young Adult
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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.
First off, I fully admit that this is a difficult book to read and that it’s gory and dark and not suitable for the younger YA crowd. McGinnis herself recommended it to readers 16+. There are scenes of assault and gruesome murders so be aware of what you’re getting yourself into when you pick up this book. And secondly. This book was amazing.
It’s really hard to review a book like this because for so many people it will be too much. And that’s completely fine. But for me, this was exactly the book I needed. I needed a raging, troubled, strong female character who shared my outrage for the way males and females are treated differently. This book might be about revenge and murder on the surface, but it’s also about the inequalities when facing the treatment of men and women, boys and girls, and how that leads to a community that just DOES NOT WORK. It is such a perfect microscope at our society right now and how so many people are willing to accept certain behaviors from people and pass it off as “boys being boys”. But that leaves half of our society completely at the will of the other half and why should women accept that? I loved that this character was willing to address these problems. And while she addressed them in a way that I never would, it also presented a really interesting look at how pain and violence and anger can change a person to their core.
There’s one quick thing I want to point out about this book that I really liked as well. A lot of the characters might seem cookie-cutter at first. The good-looking jock. The homecoming queen mean-girl. The loner girl with no friends. They all seem to be playing a certain parts but those parts aren’t necessarily as set in stone or for the reasons that you might think. I just appreciated that about the book as well.
In the end, this is a difficult book to read. Even more difficult when you realize how young the characters are that are going through these things. But the main character, Alex, (although it does have 3 different POVs) makes such good observations on our culture and the behavior we have come to believe is completely okay and what happens when we ourselves commit violence against others or have crimes committed against us. I loved how McGinnis took her character to dark places and doesn’t apologize for making us uncomfortable. Because she shouldn’t. These things are actually happening and when we excuse certain behaviors, the result is a complete breakdown in what is acceptable and normal behavior within a society. And it is so spot on for what is happening right now in our country. And it’s heartbreaking.
I hope you guys will give this book a chance if you think it’s something you can read. And if it’s not, I hope you’ll at least take a moment to understand why the phrase “boys will be boys” is teaching both our sons and our daughters to accept behavior that is harmful and disrespecteful and that we should hold everyone to higher standards.
“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.”
“I live in a world where not being molested as a child is considered luck.”