Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Recently Read: The Female of the Species (Read This Book Please)

Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Young Adult- Contemporary
Publication Date: 2016
Page Count: 352
Rating: 5/5

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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. Goodreads

This book will stick with me forever. I went into this book totally blind to the plot, (I knew it was a contemporary that dealt with sexual assault and that was it) and I was floored. This book is so dark and captivating. I couldn't stop reading, and I had no idea how it was going to end. This book is full of so much violence and rage and it's so hard to read but impossible to look away.

This book deals with so much in such a brutally honest way. The main issue this book examines is violence against women. The things that happen in this book are horrible and real and horrible because they are real. The idea of rape cultural and the dangers of ignoring the small contributors, like the 'one-off rape joke' a friend makes or the sexist graffiti in the school bathrooms, are laid out so honestly in this novel. This novel does not let you look away from the reality of the fear of living as a female and it left an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach for the entire novel.

This novel and its characters are so complex. I enjoyed that this novel was told from three different perspectives (two female, one male) but the other two perspectives were just meant as another way for us to get to know Alex and the way other people see her. Alex is one of the most complicated characters I have come across in a YA contemporary and maybe even YA in general. She is capable of such violence and yet is so human. The two other perspectives are Peekay, (PK for Preacher's kid) who befriends Alex, and Jack, your typical popular YA male, who develops a relationship with Alex. I enjoyed both of these characters and found them likeable and fully developed, but Alex is the real star of the show.

I have a pretty low tolerance for violence. I do not enjoy action movies, I can't stomach war movies at all, and I struggle to understand humanity's tendency for violence. So while I was uncomfortable and shocked by the violence Alex was capable of, I had to ask myself why. Why would I be shocked at violence coming from a seventeen year old girl when I know the violence she has seen and been subject to? Alex's sister was raped and murdered- brutally murdered-;she sees violence towards women in her life outside of school (spend two seconds reading the news or social media and you can find at least as many cases of violence against women) AND she has seen the same violence her sister faced threatened on her friends. It's a sad reality when violence against women is not shocking, but a retaliation of violence is. Obviously, Alex is more a symbol for revenge and justice for violence against women, and the reaction I have had to her character will keep me thinking for ages.

This book deals with something that women deal with everyday, and Alex's existence forces us to ask how we can seek justice for these wrongs. This question is huge, impossible, and heartbreaking to think about, but it's there. I would love to say that this novel contains the solution to this problem, but it doesn't, as no novel ever could. All I know, is that I am so glad that this novel exists and that I have read it.

While this long post has been more a reaction to the novel rather than a review of it, I'm here to tell you to read this novel. You will have a strong reaction to it and it will make you think. It is dark, well-written, and captivating.

All we can do is continue to work everyday to end gender based violence in any way that we can.

If you liked this book, please check out Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill


  1. Your review just shot this book right up my wishlist on Goodreads! I am actually surprised that this one hasn't hit my radar as much, considering how confronting the subject content is! I love reading about these kinds of issues, I think it's so important for us to continue these discussions. Great review! Thanks. :)

    Cass @ Words on Paper

    1. So glad to hear that! This book provided a really great reading experience! Hope you enjoy!
      Thanks for stopping by Cass!