Written by: Mindy McGinnis
Published: September, 2016 by HarperTeen
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: 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.
*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***
I always try to review a book immediately after finishing it, that way my thoughts are fresh. But this is a time where I wish I could sit with this book a little bit more because honestly this book will stick with me. It was brutal and dark but also sweet and oh so compelling. I was kind of surprised by how much I liked it.
For one thing, this is a super intense and serious book. I don't read a lot of contemporary and the ones I do read are usually on the lighter side. But this book is not at all lighthearted and fun, it's raw. It has all the intensity that I enjoy about mysteries and thrillers but without that mystery element. It's very much about the people but the darker side of life. It's not the kind of book that will leave you feeling good about humanity but at the same time it is still oddly empowering. I don't usually like this kind of book but in this case I really enjoyed it. I think because it did have that intensity, it was gripping and engaging and it kept me reading. Once I had started I really couldn't stop. Contemporaries are not usually pageturners for me and this one was.
Because of the intensity I would probably consider this book to be an "issue" kind of contemporary, and the issue that it addresses is rape and rape culture. It's kind of a dark and brutal look at a dark and brutal thing. If you have triggers for rape and sexual assault I would probably avoid this book because if I'm being honest, it "goes there" and it does it in a big way. It doesn't beat around the bush in it's depiction of rape and rape culture. It addresses some pretty intense issues in a way that gives it levity and makes you think and for that I respect it. I appreciate that it didn't shy away from some of the complexities and the cultural treatment but it was definitely hard to read at times. It's serious and intense.
However I think the heart of this book is in the relationships. It looks at a lot of different ways that people relate and interact with one another in both positive and negative ways. I really liked the way it handled familial relationships, romantic relationship, and friendships. They weren't always perfect but they felt real and raw. The love that they shared for one another was obvious and the way that particularly the romance and the friendship developed throughout the book was one of my favorite parts. The relationships really grounded the book and balanced the seriousness in a way that felt honest.
But perhaps I liked the relationships so much because I really liked the character. Mindy McGinnis does a great job here in developing complex and interesting characters who walk that fine line between good and evil. Alex being the prime example of that. When we first meet her, she's killing someone. You wouldn't think that would make for a likable character, nor the fact that she's disconnected and violent, and yet it does. We see inside her head and we see her at her best and her worst, and her terrible actions almost seem justified. I don't really know how but she's just so likable and because of that and by the end of the book I was really attached to Alex. But she's just the beginning. This book is full of people that I should hate but I don't. It switched perspectives between Alex, Jack, and Peekay which honestly makes for a well-rounded look at things and I really liked that.
On the whole, this is a really great book. I wasn't sure how I would feel about it but after some good review and recommendations from friends I gave it a try and I'm glad that I did. It's a serious, intense, and brutal book but it tactfully handles a serious issue in a compelling and complex way.
I give The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis 9 out of 10 stars
Have you read The Female of the Species? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!