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When the murderer of Alex Craft's sister walked free, she made sure he wouldn't get off scot-free. She knows how to kill a man. She doesn't get caught, but she knows she can't trust herself around other people even in her small Ohio hometown. She tries to become invisible and go unnoticed, just make it through the rest of the school year. However, Jack does just that - he's the guy everyone wants to be, or be with, as the future valedictorian and a football star - he hasn't been able to forget her considering his role in her sister's death years ago. He doesn't just notice her, he wants to really get to know her. Peekay, the Preacher's Kid whose identity is wrapped up in her father's profession, does too as both girls volunteer at the local animal shelter. The two slowly become friends and Peekay begins to see that Alex is much more than she would have expected. Over the course of senior year, Alex, Peekay, and Jack begin to come together, and only one thing is for certain, they will not come out the same.
Mindy McGinnis's newest release, The Female of the Species can be best described as dark, gritty, chilling, brutal, and intense. The author doesn't pull any punches with this absolutely enthralling tale. Her prose is captivating and her character development is top notch. The Female of the Species is a must read YA Contemporary. I don't say that often about contemporaries, but this one certainly earns it in every way. It addresses tough subjects including drinking, sex, and drugs. However, it most prominently features an unflinching look at rape culture, double standards, and abuse - it holds a mirror up to the worst parts of our society. I'd say it pushes the envelop more than any YA novel I've read, especially one that's lead by a female character. It's surprising and refreshing to see how much Alex gets away with or takes in and how much that is actually addressed.
On a similar topic, and as I mentioned above, the character development here is excellent, especially when it comes to Alex. She is absolutely filled with rage for what has happened to her sister, along with other horrible things that she witnesses over the course of the novel some of which have been practically normalized, and shes uses that rage to claim justice. However, she isn't confined to just being a rage filled psychopath or sociopath, she's much more and can't be boxed in or labelled. She fearless, not afraid to call people out, protective of her friends (and cute shelter animals), and willing to do what it takes to get a job done. The novel alternates between point-of-view chapters of Alex and her friends, Jack and Peekay, which does cut down on some of the near nonstop intensity, but does give us a great look at Alex through their eyes. Like I mentioned before, all of the characters are really well developed including the secondary and supporting cast. and we get fascinating views into their lives and just how much Alex has influenced them for better or for worse.
Overall, The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis is an incredibly important novel that must not be missed. I highly recommend all of her novels, but this one in particular needs to be read - but be forewarned that, depending on the maturity of the reader, is meant for older teens ages 16 and up. McGinnis expertly handles difficult topics that are often just not discussed openly at all. If you're interested in the character of Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, I believe you'll also want to meet Alex Craft. It's easy to see why Mindy McGinnis has quickly become one of my favorite YA authors and I am eagerly awaiting her next book, Given to the Sea, which is due out on April 11, 2017.
I read this novel from December 1 - 3, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads. You can also read about that time I met Mindy McGinnis here!