Personal Thoughts: I’ve told this story on my BookTube channel but I had been offered an ARC of The Female of the Species at BEA in 2016 and after seeing the awful cover, I put it down without a second glance. Little did I know that The Female of the Species is pitched as a YA female version of Dexter, one of my favorite television shows ever (minus the horrible decline in the plot after season 4 and the worst series ending of all time) and it wasn’t until I got home to NY and started seeing rave reviews from trusted friends that I realized my huge mistake in letting this ARC go. So you can bet that upon it’s release date, I headed over to my local B&N and picked up at copy! I loved this book hundreds of thousands of times more than I was ever expecting to (even with the Dexter comparison) and I love that Mindy McGinnis wrote this important story for a YA audience.
Plot Summary: Alex Craft’s older sister Anna is murdered three years prior to the events of The Female of the Species but the killer in her small town goes unpunished, by legal means anyway. Alex, deeply affected by her sister’s murder takes justice into her own hands and avenges her sister’s death but is also not caught by local law enforcement. Alex always stays away from her classmates until her senior year when she forges a friendship at work with Peekay, the Preacher’s Kid and her high school’s golden boy, Jack Fisher, shows a romantic interest in her. The three end up at a party together where lots of alcohol and sexual abuse begin occurring and it trigger’s Alex’s dark side that she’s always kept hidden until now.
Critique: WOW. The Female of the Species is such an important story. Mindy McGinnis covers rape-culture, drugs, underage drinking, feminism and so very much more. The fact that this book was written for a YA audience speaks volumes about Mindy McGinnis and the lessons she’s trying to teach young women. I was completely blown away by how these darker issues were handled and what a realistic portrayal Mindy was able to conjure up for this small town. Each character was completely dynamic, believable and multi-layered. The Female of the Species is narrated by each of the three aforementioned characters (Alex, Peekay and Jack) and each person brings an interesting perspective to the table. Even the secondary characters like Branley were just written so perfectly. Despite all of the darkness, there are some heartwarming moments involving the animals Alex and Peekay care for at their job, and the attitude Peekay’s parents have toward what they experienced as teenagers. Despite being a Preacher, Peekay’s dad doesn’t turn a blind eye or forbade Peekay from partaking in any social events. He and her mom both give her one of the memorable parent-daughter talks I’ve ever read. Seriously, my heart was melting. If you can handle a very gritty and real contemporary story that delves into important social issues, The Female of the Species is 100% worth the read but there are major triggers for anyone sensitive to abuse.
Do I Recommend?: Yes! This is by no means an easy read in the sense that it deals with some HEAVY topics but I have no doubt you’ll fall in love with Alex’s morally grey character and her drive for justice in a society that’s otherwise apathetic to the things women experience.