Sep 24th

Review of The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Posted in Reviews
The Female of the Species

Title: The Female of the Species
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date Published: September 20, 2016
Where I Got the Book: ARC received via Twitter giveaway
Want to buy your own copy? AMAZON| Quail Ridge Books (Indie Bookseller)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.

Content warning for discussion of rape, assault, and murder.

You should read this book.

I won’t say that you need to–it was, at times, difficult to read–but I certainly believe that you should. The Female of the Species was an engaging story dealing with misogyny and rape culture. Mindy McGinnis created an enthralling plot, realistic characters, and altogether a book I found myseslf unable to put down. I was hooked from the moment I read the first page, an impressive feat.

There are three alternating points of view in this book: Alex, a vigilante whose sister was raped and murdered; Jack, a popular teenage boy; and Peekay, a rebellious preacher’s daughter. While the point of view changes each chapter, they were seamlessly woven together–I never felt that this book was disjointed. Each character plays a specific role: Alex is a vengeful protector, Jack serves as an example of the male gaze, and Peekay becomes the subject of Alex’s protection through a budding friendship. Jack and Peekay, as well as various side characters throughout the novel, are strikingly similar to so many of the people I remember going to high school with. Mindy McGinnis’ characterization results in a convincing and sometimes deeply unsettling portrait of adolescent life in modern America.

The plot, however, is the real enticement: Alex’s sister was brutally murdered. She hones her inherently violent nature so that she can become a weapon, protecting and defending other women who are subjected to physical and sexual violence. She keeps herself apart from others, concerned her dangerous nature could put them at risk. This changes as she begins to form a friendship with Peekay. As Alex is changed by this relationship, another forms: one with Jack. As the three of them are brought closer together, the story begins to pick up in pace. When Peekay is drugged and very nearly assaulted, Alex reveals her nature to the people she’s begun to grow close to. Things quickly escalate from here. I won’t reveal more than that, but know that I literally could not put this book down until I was finished with it.

My favorite thing about The Female of the Species is the lack of moral grandstanding. There are no long-winded paragraphs discussing why rape culture and misogyny are dangerous. Instead, McGinnis deftly weaves a story that reveals these truths without ever feeling like a public service announcement. Tied into this is the lack of condemnation of Alex’s actions. I loved that more than I could possibly explain in words. I feel that it is a rare and special thing that we don’t have to read some long moral tract about how while rape and murder are terrible acts, Alex doesn’t have the right to mete out punishment. There are few characters in contemporary literature that speak to me like she does and she will continue to be a favorite of mine.

The Female of the Species is one of the best books I’ve read thus far in 2016. The plot is enticing, the characters are realistic, and the message is important. I highly recommend that you read this book. This was my first experience reading Mindy McGinnis’ work and I’ve been more than successfully convinced to check out everything she’s ever written now.

The Female of the Species

Title: The Female of the Species
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date Published: September 20, 2016
Where I Got the Book: ARC received via Twitter giveaway
Want to buy your own copy? AMAZON| Quail Ridge Books (Indie Bookseller)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.

Content warning for discussion of rape, assault, and murder.

You should read this book.

I won’t say that you need to–it was, at times, difficult to read–but I certainly believe that you should. The Female of the Species was an engaging story dealing with misogyny and rape culture. Mindy McGinnis created an enthralling plot, realistic characters, and altogether a book I found myseslf unable to put down. I was hooked from the moment I read the first page, an impressive feat.

There are three alternating points of view in this book: Alex, a vigilante whose sister was raped and murdered; Jack, a popular teenage boy; and Peekay, a rebellious preacher’s daughter. While the point of view changes each chapter, they were seamlessly woven together–I never felt that this book was disjointed. Each character plays a specific role: Alex is a vengeful protector, Jack serves as an example of the male gaze, and Peekay becomes the subject of Alex’s protection through a budding friendship. Jack and Peekay, as well as various side characters throughout the novel, are strikingly similar to so many of the people I remember going to high school with. Mindy McGinnis’ characterization results in a convincing and sometimes deeply unsettling portrait of adolescent life in modern America.

The plot, however, is the real enticement: Alex’s sister was brutally murdered. She hones her inherently violent nature so that she can become a weapon, protecting and defending other women who are subjected to physical and sexual violence. She keeps herself apart from others, concerned her dangerous nature could put them at risk. This changes as she begins to form a friendship with Peekay. As Alex is changed by this relationship, another forms: one with Jack. As the three of them are brought closer together, the story begins to pick up in pace. When Peekay is drugged and very nearly assaulted, Alex reveals her nature to the people she’s begun to grow close to. Things quickly escalate from here. I won’t reveal more than that, but know that I literally could not put this book down until I was finished with it.

My favorite thing about The Female of the Species is the lack of moral grandstanding. There are no long-winded paragraphs discussing why rape culture and misogyny are dangerous. Instead, McGinnis deftly weaves a story that reveals these truths without ever feeling like a public service announcement. Tied into this is the lack of condemnation of Alex’s actions. I loved that more than I could possibly explain in words. I feel that it is a rare and special thing that we don’t have to read some long moral tract about how while rape and murder are terrible acts, Alex doesn’t have the right to mete out punishment. There are few characters in contemporary literature that speak to me like she does and she will continue to be a favorite of mine.

The Female of the Species is one of the best books I’ve read thus far in 2016. The plot is enticing, the characters are realistic, and the message is important. I highly recommend that you read this book. This was my first experience reading Mindy McGinnis’ work and I’ve been more than successfully convinced to check out everything she’s ever written now.

By Oliver Lumpkin

Oli oli oxen-free

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