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.
Female of the SpeciesFeatured
Alex as a character was probably the most interesting part about this book. I mean that first line.
“Here’s how I kill someone.” -Pg. 1
Who does she kill and why. What in her past made her react this way. As you continue reading you find yourself really rooting for her. You want her to be okay, and you find yourself sympathizing with her. Alex reminds me of a female Dexter. Mindy gave me a lot of feels during and after this book.
Then there is Peekay (nickname for preachers daughter) real name Claire. She was another character that really just made this book so worth reading, as well as her friendship with Alex. One thing I live for in books is female friendship and Claire and Alex’s was just fantastic. And to be honest I loved that despite being the preachers daughter she acted like a teenager. Oh and her parents! I mean I loved her parents because yes they are religious but they didn’t act like their daughter would never of anything wrong. They were good parents and if you read YA thats pretty rare. They were willing to talk to Claire and they were there for her. They talked about the hard things. Things most parents don’t want to have to talk to their children about.
And then there’s Jack, he was… interesting. One thing that I noticed with each character is that while I didn’t agree with some of the things they thought, I still liked them as a character. They were real and emotional. Jack was, i’m assuming a typical High School boy, and while I myself am not one, I was intrigued by the way Jack thought. He made some bad choices but he was a guy who wanted to do his best to be a good person. And despite the fact that he messed up or made choices that probably weren’t the best, he still was trying. They all were. They were trying their best to be good people and get through life.
While the ending was really sad it’s probably one of my favorite endings. You see the change in people. You see the way the girls and the guys speak up now. The comments that are no longer ignored. The slaps on butts aren’t laughed at. And I think it’s so beautiful that Mindy shows just how much things can change if only we are willing to speak up. That if we speak up instead of staying silent that we can have an effect. That it’s on our shoulders as much as anyones. One of my favorite scenes and one that I think really showed the change in characters, was Peekay in the bathroom. It brought tears to my eyes. And I loved seeing the change in the bathroom from the beginning to the end. Not matter how young you can always make a difference. FEMALE OF THE SPECIES really shows that you have a voice. That what you say, how you say it, even staying silent all have an impact. You can make a difference. That it’s on us to be better people.This book really forces you to look at the comments being made. By friends or strangers. Look at the effect they have on people and they effect they have on you. This book may be a tough topic but it’s one we need to talk about. Whether you’re a boy or girl, we need to have these tough talks because without them nothing’s going to change. I loved that Mindy really makes you think with this book. It’s not an easy read, in fact it’s one that sometimes brought tears to my eyes but it so worth reading. And I think the conversations that come up because of this book are going to be worth it.
Overall I loved this story and there isn’t anything I disliked about this book, which is rare. The voices were fresh and at times funny. It wakes you up, smacks you in the face and demands your attention. It’s brutal honesty and beautiful characters make Female of the Species a story that will be talked about for years to come. It’s one I already have preordered and I highly recommend it. Well done Mindy, well done.
When Anna was raped and murdered and the killer walked free, her sister Alex takes vengeance into her own hands. When her crime goes unpunished, Alex regulates herself to the shadows, a plain and unremarkable girl who has no friends, because she knows she is different from other people. Dangerously so. But popular jock Jack Fisher notices her. He could have any girl in the school (and does) but he can’t stop himself from falling for Alex, and feeling guilty for what happened the night Anna’s body was found. Peekay, the preacher’s kid, sees Alex too, and they become fast friends after working together at an animal shelter. Circumstances bring Alex, Jack and Peekay together and, while out partying one night, Alex’s violent nature escapes free which alters the lives of these three teenagers forever.
I don’t know where to begin with this review because The Female of the Species was such a gritty and courageous novel; despite the book’s overwhelmingly dense content, I found it flawless and unputdownable. I won’t lie, it was hard work reading this novel – from the sinister, realistic representation of rape culture to the eerie plotline to the unflinching style of writing, McGinnis successfully integrates pertinent real-life issues into a fictional world that the reader can’t help but encourage: a world where a teenage girl goes on a killing spree in order to take vengeance on male rapists, killers and paedophiles.
The novel features three POV protagonists: Claire, also known as Peekay, Jack, and Alex – three very different and flawed teenagers who are drawn to one another. Claire is the preacher’s daughter, whose entire personality and character within the town revolve around this fact; her friends even give her the nickname Peekay: Preacher’s kid. Claire’s boyfriend dumps her for the town’s most popular girl, Branley, and Claire is reeling from the loss of, what she thought was, her first love. Claire’s character was probably one of the most pertinent of the novel as she grappled with her own version of internalised sexism. Claire blames Branley for her boyfriend’s decision to leave her and continually makes sexist comments about Branley. While I detest books that pit women against each other (even briefly and especially over a guy), this was important too, as it reaffirms that women are also capable of sexism. One of the most appalling elements of today’s society is when women fight one another over men – Claire goes through a deep, personal journey (in the most heartbreaking way) and comes to understand the importance of female friendship and women standing up for one another, instead of trying to tear each other down through shaming.
I had a love/hate relationship with Jack. I have never particularly enjoyed the jock character in novels; the character is so stereotypical, sexist and just plain annoying. While Jack’s character emulated that trope, McGinnis also slightly subverted his character in that he has larger ideals beyond high-school. Jack is gunning for valedictorian and wants to get the hell out of his home-town, but he can’t stop himself from falling for Alex who has to plans to leave her small world. His relationship with Alex read a little bizarrely, at least for me. I don’t feel as though McGinnis completely developed or explained Jack’s feelings for Alex beyond him feeling guilty for being drunk and having sex the night Anna’s body was found. Nevertheless, I did eventually come to enjoy their odd relationship, which provided some of the novel’s most heart-wrenching and loving scenes.
By far the most complex and engaging character was Alex Craft. Is it bad if I label her as a new book girlfriend? Alex is haunted by her sister’s brutal murder – she is seen as a strange girl and does not cultivate friendships with anyone at her high-school. Alex knows there is something wrong with her, something that her sister’s murder violently brought out, which is why she detaches herself from the wider society – she is dangerous. I’ve no doubt that, if given the chance, Alex would have grown up and become a female, feminist version of Dexter.
Despite Alex’s methods in seeking justice for victims of sexual violence, you can’t help but admire her for undertaking such a decision – a decision that so many other people wish they could also pursue, but their conscience prevents them from doing so. This was a prominent element within the novel: the desire for people to act in a violent, hedonistic manner as compared to the way they would actually act.
The best scenes in the novel featured Alex and I am unable to choose a favourite. She had so many amazing soliloquies that thoroughly dismantled rape culture and slut-shaming. I didn’t know if I wanted to high-five her or hug her (though I doubt she would allow that).
The conclusion of this novel was gut-wrenching. I sat in silence for a full ten minutes after closing this book, unable to come to terms with what occurred. What hits the hardest is the knowledge that there is no other way this book could have ended – any other ending would not have had the same impact.
Despite what my review suggests, this novel is not completely dark. It is, ultimately, a story about hope and redemption, and how we can overcome rape culture, dismantle sexism and bring an end to the insidious side of the patriarchy.
The book was told in three POVs, Alex, Jack, and Peekay. Jack was the king of the school type character who was slowly becoming aware of how big of a douche he’d been and was starting to take an interest in outsider Alex. Peekay, or Claire, was the preacher’s kid who was expected to be a good girl but could always be found at a girl. Alex was a loner who took her own revenge against her sister’s murderer. Together these three found each other and became a group of friends each of them needed.
Alex was the central character of the three of them. She was very different from other characters I’ve read before. She struggled with herself, her anger, her impulses, and she had a very grey view of morality. In a Criminal Minds episode, she would be the unsub that the viewer might find themselves hoping the team doesn’t catch. It was great to see her begin a friendship with Peekay and a relationship with Jack.
The book made a lot of points about topics like slut-shaming, victim blaming, girls vs boys, humanity. It could get a little violent, there was a lot of cursing and sexual activity but it was always used in a way to make a point. Maybe not immediately but when the plot eventually got there, it was like ‘oh that makes sense/didn’t think of it that way’ type of feeling. Definitely one of my favourite Mindy McGinnis books so far.
This novel is dark, intense, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking and difficult to read at times. The teenage characters drink, swear and have sex and there are some violent scenes. But this novel sends a powerful message about rape and sexism that needs to be talked about and shared.
When Alex decides to take care of things in her own way and turns into a vigilante, it's difficult to condemn her actions. With such horrific stories reported by the media, I think most people can identify with how she feels, but not everyone would follow through on what they'd like to do to the perpetrators. The three different POVs are integral to this story - being in Alex's head and seeing how her mind works and her struggles to act 'normal', learning how Jack deals with his conflicting feelings for her, and hearing Peekay's thoughts about her developing friendship with Alex.
The Female of the Species would make an excellent book club selection, but this is a book I'd recommend for the more mature YA crowd. Beautifully written, memorable, jarring, and highly recommended.