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.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Book Title: The Female of the Species
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: September 20th, 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
I don’t know if our society will ever come close enough to one day determining what makes the human condition or if there is even one correct answer to this topic. What I do know is this though: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis is a YA book that brings us one step closer to solving this riddle. What are some of the characteristics of the human condition and how does pain and violence play a role in this?
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. It’s the first line I saw on the book blurb when I read it on my ARC, the first line that led me to believe this story was going to be more than just a sappy YA contemporary. Yes, there’s romance and your typical high school drama, but this book dealt with some really heavy (excuse my language children) shit. What was neat about this book though is that you know right from the start who killed Comstock. And you immediately want to think terrible things about Alex and her behavior, even if Comstock was a horrible person. Because we’re brought up to believe that murder is wrong, no matter what, and that you can’t take it upon yourself to deal with horrible people when society doesn’t serve up justice that is deserved. But the further into the book you get, the less easy it is to place blame on Alex and dislike her for her actions.
There’s also the fact that Alex isn’t normal, and the struggle she goes through everyday isn’t easy. She won’t even consider college for fear of what she might do when she gets there, and that right there really demonstrated to me what type of person Alex was. Some of my favorite parts of the book were the scenes with Alex and Claire (Peekay) at the animal shelter and seeing the side of Alex that we aren’t familiar with yet as the reader. She was the type of person who would feed kittens milk and try to save a cornered dog, even if it meant getting bit. She was compassionate beyond a sliver of a doubt and you have to spend the book rectifying the original impression of her you get from reading about her murdering Comstock, to the high school girl who just wants a friend and to be loved.
The hardest part about reading this book for me, was that it really tested my own personal assumptions about myself and what I would do in the same situation. No, I know I don’t have it in me to do some of the things Alex did, but like Claire, there were more than a few times I’ve thought about what it would be like to hurt someone who has done something horrible. The scene that really did it for me was when they’re working at the animal shelter and they get a call about three puppies who were thrown out of the window of a car and died on impact. Your immediate action is to be sick, because what human being can do that to poor, innocent puppies? But like Claire, my next reaction was “let’s get that mother f’er” because you want to see them pay for what they did.
The difference between Claire and Alex though is that Alex acts on instinct, which brings us back to the idea of the female species and what really makes humans different from animals. By the end of the book, which I knew was going to be controversial no matter which way it went, I still wasn’t sure I knew how I felt about Alex’s behavior. On one hand, I was still morally repulsed by some of her actions and yet, I couldn’t help but think what our world would be like if more people were Alex. How many unjust things would find punishment and how many horrible people would be eradicated from this earth? And that my friends, is what made me really appreciate this book for all it was worth. Not only was it a really fun read at times because Mindy McGinnis’s writing is brass and her characters are extremely unique, but it was also thought provoking in a way YA hasn’t pushed me to think in a while.