THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES
Written by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Teagan Books, September 20, 2016
My star rating – 5 stars!
A contemporary YA novel that examines rape culture through alternating perspectives.
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.
Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.
As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever. Find it on Goodreads
I have far more thoughts about this one than I expected to. But before I even go into the review – I need to let you know that there are MANY trigger warnings with this one. There is talk about rape, sex, alcohol and drug use, abuse, bullying, and murder. The message that comes along with all of this is VERY realistic and a truly fantastic look at it all. It will make you think and consider many things along the way. I think that this book was really well written and the message that I took away from this experience will stay with me for a very long time. It’s worth a read, but if any of these things trigger you, then stay clear.
First of all, this is a very character driven book. Yes, there’s a plot, but it relies heavily on the characters thoughts, emotions, past, and actions. I feel that, for the most part, the character development was done well. We have three perspectives: Alex, PeeKay, and Jack. None of these three were really friends in the beginning and we follow how these three come together and form bonds.
Alex is known as the sister of the dead girl. Her older sister was murdered a little while ago and, because of this and a few other things, she is very closed off and private. She keeps to herself, reads a lot of books, has the top grades in the school, and is hiding some secrets. The book is basically about her, however, her perspective was the smallest. I understand why this was – she was meant to be a mystery. There are so many reasons why Alex is the way she is, but it’s not all revealed all at once. As she forms relationships with Jack and PeeKay, we get a deeper glimpse into the person Alex is. But, due to this mystery, I feel that she wasn’t fleshed out quite enough. I wanted more of her thoughts and inner monologue. I wanted more emotion from her!
PeeKay (her real name is Claire but she’s called PeeKay as it’s short form for Preacher’s Kid) is the perspective that we get the most. This is who I was when I was a teenager. She feels emotions strongly, wants to believe the best in people, and tries hard to please herself, her parents, and friends. I liked her, and how she deals with the things that come up in high school and living in a small town, but at the same time I felt the least connected to her.
Now Jack – he was EVERYTHING!!! Not really the person he was, but how freaking real he was. He was the smart jock with everything going for him. He was looking at a full ride scholarship and it was a good thing because his family is poor. He could have any girl he wanted but he only had eyes for Alex. His relationship with her was so realistic. It looks at the mind of a teenage boy and all it entails – which is mostly sex. But it looked at the differences between relationships. More specifically, the difference between one that is purely physical and one that is based with love and feelings. His focus and desires changed completely when he was in a relationship with someone he really cared about it and it was so real and beautiful! It made me love him and everything he stood for.
This book isn’t an easy read. There is a lot of rape, bullying, murder and a few other things. Even though this was tough, the messages it entails was absolutely stunning! There was a lot of support from parents, the community, and the police. There was a clear line drawn with what is acceptable, what isn’t acceptable, and what to do if these things happen. There was so much support from so many different places…… this needs to happen more in books! The police are there for you and need you to know that you aren’t in trouble – there needs to be consequences. The parents are understanding that teenagers drink, but they emphasize caution, support, safety, and groups. Even friends, who were once enemies, can come together and support each other through common ground. The message that you are never truly alone was amazing!
The other theme of this book is to let people know that we all have problems. We all have issues that we’re dealing with, even if we seem completely put together on the outside. But if we stick together, we can get through it in the end. This book was far more powerful than I was expecting, and I am SO glad that I finally decided to read it!
Until next time, happy reading!