Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Female Of The Species by Mindy McGinnis

The Female Of The Species by Mindy McGinnis
Release Date - September 20, 2016
Publisher Website - Harper Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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. 
The Female Of the Species is a hard book. It's a hard book to review and at times a hard book to read. It's unflinching and raw in its darkness and message. It's a darkly intelligent novel that is as sharply written as it is necessary.

The cover, while not really part of this review, immediately lets you know what type of story this is. Graced with pictures of the female of various species and their names ranging from vixen, cow and bitch, it hammers home the words we assign to women and how damaging many of them are.

If I had to provide one word to describe this novel I am confident it would be violence. Violence is the heartbeat of this novel. It's represented in my ways and forms. Actual violence, imagined violence, and what the numbing to violence does to society. It's exploration is razor sharp, and gritty. It is uncomfortable because it paints an all too realistic picture of our society. It makes it impossible not to question things, and offers one of the more complex explorations that I've read.

Alex Craft exists in grey. She is one of the most morally complex characters that I've ever met. Her sister's murder has left her justifiably angry. She's allowed that anger to create a dark hardness within in her that allows her to be capable of violence. She could easily be compared to Dexter, another morally complex character. The difference is, this is the first time I've encountered this in a female character. Alex muses that there isn't a word for what she is, and that feels true. She names herself vengeance which feels appropriate.

Rape culture seeps through every page of this novel. It ranges from subtle to glaringly in your face. This novel looks at the danger of gross casual comments, right up to slut shamming and its impact on how women are perceived. You are hit with the reality of this culture right from the initial pages, but it is hammered home with the jaw dropping presentation made by a police officer at Alex's school, complete with jarring statistics. This novel puts things into perspective in a way that is undeniable. Branley, and the way she's viewed and treated, is a direct product of rape culture. She's slut shammed, treated as nothing more than a pair of boobs and an ass. We see how damaging this is, and how it can leave a lasting scar that may not be visible , but hurts just as much getting as a physical one.

I normally don't provide trigger warning in novels, but those who have issues with animal cruelty may have issues getting through the earlier part of this novel. I believe you should, and the reason the animal cruelty is included is immediately evident and does highlight the point the author is making. The story itself is one that is worth reading, even if you have to skim these two occurrences. It is not enough to not experience this incredible novel.

My words are not enough to adequately express the way this novel impacts you. It's the kind of novel that gives you the worst kind of book hangover, and one that makes you see the world around you a little bit differently. A tough novel to read at times, but one that is incredibly important. Mindy McGinnis has given us unforgettable characters, and a novel that will settle itself inside you, and demand that you discuss it with everyone. This novel may make you uncomfortable at times but it is vital and required reading. The Female of the Species is indeed deadlier than the male, and Mindy McGinnis shows us why in her brutal, breath-taking novel that pierces your soul. 

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