THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES
By Mindy McGinnis
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (September 20, 2016)
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.
How does one even begin a review of a book that is literally EVERYTHING that they were hoping for? There’s this poem by Rudyard Kipling that you should read, mainly because the second half of “the female of the species” phrase is super revealing in terms of the context of the book. Plus it’s also just a really fun poem. Mwahaha.
THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is the story of Alex, Peekay, and Jack. The story begins with Alex telling the reader how she kills. Alex is damaged by the Criminal-Minds worthy murder of her older sister. Her sister’s name was Anna, and she was both Anna’s protector, and the one to calm her when she felt too much. Her story is what I wanted from the New Adult book Marrow, by Tarryn Fisher. While I liked that one, THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is a story that will stick with me for a long time. And it’s all because of Alex. She may actually be one of my favorite characters out of any book ever.
She’s incredibly unique. I haven’t read a character like her except for in Marrow.
Alex is the discourse of right and wrong, she is the line between sanity and the insane, she is the vengeance and redemption. She knows who she is, and she’s more than aware that she is capable of murder, and is able to do so again. When Peekay and Jack invade her life, she does not suddenly become a whole new person. Peekay is the preacher’s kid, and their working together at the animal shelter brings them together. Jack is the beloved sporty hot guy of the high school, and senior year marks a fascination with Alex that he can’t shake off. They both want to know her.
THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is about social injustice (think rape, sex offenders) just as much as it is about murder, a wolf in human skin, and the main character interacting with people her own age—really just people in general-- for the first time. The book is all about the gray areas.
The story itself is incredibly authentic. I was connected to the town, to each of the character’s families. I was made to wonder, wanted to look through my high school year book, which of my classmates was the one who quietly avenged those wronged by society. In the center of Alex’s turmoil with her own (being, should I call it being?) being there was still a high school with academics and teenage drama and Life After High School.