Release Date: September 20th 2016
Genres: Law & Crime, Social Themes, Thrillers & Suspense, Violence, Young Adult Fiction
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.
A Dark but Sadly Realistic Book
When I requested THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES, the truth was that I knew very little about it other than that it was written by one of my favorite authors and had animals on the cover (which I am a total sucker for, see THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING). Clearly, I had no idea what I was getting into. Rape culture, slut shaming, sexism, and animal abuse are all depicted or mentioned in this book. It’s an important read about genuine issues, one that makes us think twice about what we otherwise are eager to push back into the shadows and pretend does not exist.
A Story That Hooks You
While McGinnis is on my author auto-buy list, I enjoyed her other works more, at least as a whole. I flew through THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES though, devouring it in about three hours with no breaks because it was sort of morbidly readable. I had to know what the end game was going to be. That’s not to say there aren’t lighthearted moments. There is humor and character development and healthy relationships among the damaged dynamics of other relationships. Speaking of those relationships, I had mixed feelings on the characters. While they were all fleshed out and unique, some got on my last nerve and I felt that some never learned a single thing from their actions. However, my biggest issue was the problem that, in my opinion, there didn’t seem to be a clear plot.
But One That Lacks Clear Direction?
A good chunk into the book I realized there was no main conflict or overarching problem that needed to be solved (or could be solved by the end of the book). View Spoiler »I’m talking conflicts in the general sense like if the main character was on the hunt for revenge for her sister instead of already having killed her killer because that would be a problem that has a clear end goal and a satisfying conclusion. « Hide Spoiler THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES could be considered a character driven novel but it didn’t seem like the main character really struggled enough with her actions or guilt enough to merit that description. I guess what I am saying is that I did not feel anything was solved other than drawing attention to issues that need to be brought to light, which is of course important in its own right. In that case, I wish more focus has been placed on victims rather than the dealing of the criminals.
Overall, I would still recommend this book as long as you are not sensitive to the issues being discussed in it. THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is an important read, and I’m glad it occupied my Saturday morning.