Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis. After you’ve read my thoughts, don’t forget to visit the other tour stops and enter for a chance to win a finished copy.
I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.The Female Of The Species by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Harper Collins on September 20, 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Amazon, - B&N
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 don’t even know how to start this review. So many times, as I have read YA as an adult, I have said to myself I wish I had read this book when I was a teen, and The Female of the Species is one of those books. Don’t get me wrong, this story is brutal, but I am so glad I read it. The Female of the Species has been in my thoughts since I finished reading it, about a week ago. It is not a feel-good book, but it is a good book. It will challenge a lot of internalized ideas you have about violence, anger, and justice. It will also break your heart….a lot. We see angry teen boys represented all the time in media. When it comes to that representation in women and girls, we normally (and this is a generalized unscientific opinion) see a girl who’s angry because of something like a failed love affair. We’re only comfortable with female anger in very specific contexts, usually pretty sexist contexts, honestly. What we know about Alex, though, is that the anger that lives inside her spilled out in horrifying ways when her sister’s rapist and killer went free. It continues to spill out when she encounters the ways that teen girls are exposed to ridicule, unwanted interactions, and assault. Her friendship with Peekay is eye opening for both Alex and for Peekay. They look at each other and see characteristics they each wish they had. I especially liked the way the micro-agressions girls fling at each other were shot down by Alex. She feels like hate and anger consumers her, but is the first to denounce the knee-jerk slut shaming that Peekay participates in when she sees someone as a romantic rival. Even the stereotypical cheerleader character is dismantled and rebuilt into someone who is fully formed and a person who doesn’t have to like you in order to help you. What I kept getting was that the culture of female rivalry that is shoved in our faces at every turn is really a distraction from where the outrage should really be directed. This is a point that Alex makes again and again.
The multiple points of view really helped this book. I needed to get inside of the heads of all three characters in order to really understand an feel what was going on. How Peekay and Jack viewed Alex was in stark contrast to how Alex viewed herself, and that was so important. I don’t know that I would have fully appreciated Alex and her anger without getting those contrasting views. Peekay and Jack both want to know her and they both succeed, but in different ways. Peekay’s inner dialogue is mixed with guilt and exasperation, and while she has many of the same thoughts that Alex does, she just doesn’t have it in her to act on them, which was the subject of one of the most interesting exchanges in the book. Jack was an interesting character who was half “typical over-sexed teen boy” and half good guy. His motivation and moral compass was all mixed in with his desire to get laid, which I thought was pretty accurate and certainly made him feel like a three dimensional character. His poverty was in stark contrast to Alex’s wealth, as were their conflicting desires for the future; Jack wanted out while Alex resigned herself to a life held in a small space. The most heartbreaking thing was how Alex viewed herself as both a protector and a monster and how Alex was willing (eventually) to accept both parts of her. The ending was intense and sad, but not entirely without hope. I was entertained by this story, but it was also a book that drew attention to the way women are expected to feel and act helpless against the onslaught of a society that sexualizes them from a young age. The Female of the Species was, to put it lightly, thought-provoking and I highly recommend this powerful book.
3 Finished Copies of THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES (US Only)