- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (September 20, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062320890
- ISBN-13: 978-0062320896
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Female of the Species Hardcover – September 20, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—After her sister was brutally murdered, Alex Craft sought revenge when her killer walked free. Alex cuts herself off from everyone in her small backwoods town, until Peekay, the shy preacher's kid, and Jack Fisher, the most popular guy in school, force their way into her life as friends, with unintended consequences for all of them. An unsettling and stark exploration of small-town life and the secrets that we all keep.
“Each word has been specifically chosen, each character superbly and humanly sculpted, the plot line masterfully completed. To say more would be to dilute the experience. McGinnis plays with the readers and they are at her mercy.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review))
“Whether a catcall, an unwelcome touch, or more, sexual aggression towards females happens daily; McGinnis explores how one teen uses violence for justice in this gripping story that should be read and discussed by teens, as well as those who work with them.” (Booklist (starred review))
“McGinnis gracefully avoids the pitfalls of creating a teenage vigilante, instead maintaining a sense of piercing realism. Alex is a pained girl in dangerous free fall, whose fierce independence is challenged by newfound friendships, even love, though neither may be enough to stave off the inevitable.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“All three teens are haunted by the memory of Anna’s murder, and Alex’s inclination to both considering and exacting revenge with cruel efficiency leads them all inexorably to an explosive, terrible finale. An unflinching look at rape culture and its repercussions.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“[A]n astoundingly dark but beautifully written tragedy, brimming with sexual assault, violent murders, and accounts of animal abuse...but also tempered with glimpses of genuine human emotion and extremely touching displays of kindness that cross social barriers and species. Highly recommended for collections serving teenagers.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
“[I]t’s raw. Not “raw for YA.” Real-deal raw. And violent. And unforgettable. McGinnis explores both and she goes there in a way no one really has before in YA. This is Kill Bill in high school, but with more nuance, bolder choices and a true female perspective.” (The Globe and Mail)
“Your heart may still be pounding after you’ve finished this book. It is uncannily well timed to our current political situation...McGinnis, who dedicates her book to ‘the victims,’ examines this dichotomy of hope and violence, love and hate, with dexterity and grace.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“The ending of this dark novel leaves much to be unpacked, and it would certainly spark heated discussion in a book club or classroom.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
McGinnis’s novel about a teenage girl who avenges her sister’s rape and murder and becomes a self-created human weapon is a gut punch that will leave you reassessing everything you thought you knew about the lives of young women.” (NY Mag)
A Must-Read YA Book of Fall 2016 (Brightly.com)
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Top Customer Reviews
I loved one of the main characters, Alex. I found her refreshing because we very rarely get to examine or even see women protagonists (or...antagonists, as she might be?) be angry, let alone have uncontrollable anger issues. Women are taught to curb their rage and Alex's continued manifestation of it through violent acts and thoughts, for me, was something intriguing and wonderful to see in a novel. The trivialization of Alex's anger, an emotion that consumes her from early childhood onward, is so true to the trivialization of women's anger in general and to see that reflection in a YA novel? Incredible.
I found the story organic, the situations normal and not out of place, the characters realistic, though some elements were not necessarily entirely believable (if the town is so small that everyone knows everyone, more than likely the police could have been able to trace Alex's crime[s] back to her: whether they would have wanted to is a different story, of course). Still, these things are easy to overlook and honestly, I found the brutal honesty and teenage philosophy on life well-written, well crafted, and realistic. I couldn't put this book down: I stayed up until nearly 4am reading it because I'd made the mistake of starting reading it at night.
Still, I'm giving this book five stars, but I have to say, I am a bit resentful about the ending, and the only reason I'm not docking it to four stars is because the disappointment is more a personal preference than any issues with execution. It's a personal preference and so I know I shouldn't let it affect my review, but with a character like this being such a rarity, I tend to get very protective of them. Also the realism begins to unravel a bit towards the end and though I should have probably seen the ending coming, it was still not what I expected. It resolves very well nonetheless, and ends on very believable terms, but for me it was just too jarring and felt cheap. I'm also wary as to such a representation of women's anger ending on such abrupt terms, though of course we still have other characters, and perhaps that was the point: to show that violence is not the answer. In which case, it's actually a great ending in the moral sense, but I myself did not like it.
Nevertheless, I loved this book. Over all, I would say you should definitely read this book. My personal biases and preferences aside, it was an addicting and dark read and though it might be difficult to stomach, we need more stories with the elements presented herein, including female anger and a discussion on how gender and sexual expectation and biases affects everyone and in what ways it does.
Alex Craft is one of my favorite characters I have ever came across, male or female. She is a complete bad chick in the best way possible. Alex's sister was brutally raped and murdered by a man in her small town. It was the first murder they had seen in as long as anyone could remember and there was not enough evidence to convict. Alex takes things into her own hands and avenges her death and gets away with it. This all happens before our story so while it has helped shape Alex it is not what the story is actually about. I went into this kind of envisioning a YA version of the Girl in 6E by Alessandra Torre but that is not what we get.
A lot of reviews I read on this book of DNF or 1 star expressed they didn't like the violence and brutality of this book. I did not understand their thinking one bit. I have read a lot of "dark" books and have a very open mind but I didn't see much violence at all in this book happening first hand in detail. The girls Alex and Peekay work at an animal shelter and the author shows the real side of what happens in these shelters. This isn't violence, this is what people in every city deal with on a day to day basis. People get animals and don't want them and throw them to the wolves.
From the blurb you clearly know that Alex has killed some one and got away with it. It is talked about after the fact in a bit of detail but it wasn't overly gruesome and it only lasts about a page. There are quite a few scenes that would trigger rape victims as well but there is no graphic description of rape either.
I am not a feminist in the slightest. I have never felt any kind of discrimination due to my sex and therefore it has never been in the fore front of my mind. This novel has a lot of messages of positive thinking between girls, anti-slut shaming, and loving yourself and others. The messages really resounded in me despite my lack of interest in the topic. I think teenage girls of this generation need to read this book and see these messages. For example, Peekay who is one of our narrators was in a relationship with Adam. He left her for the beautiful and sexually confident Branley. She blames Branley and Alex explains it in a great way that it is Adam's fault not Branley's and it is him she needs to focus her blame on. Branley is in it to have sex just like Alex and Peekay are and she isn't slutty just because Adam chose her, they are all the same deep down.
I felt the relationship between Peekay and Alex and Jack and Alex were real. I loved that while Alex is the token different girl she assimilated really easily and there wasn't a bunch of drama when she joined the popular group. It felt very real and not like typical YA trope.
The ending is a real whopper and I feel it was the only way this story could have ended. Despite what happens I felt very satisfied when I closed the book and I will be looking up Mindy McGinnis right away to see what else she has in store for us.
This is not an ~easy~ book to read--though I did speed through it because the writing is so gripping--but I'm so glad I picked this up.
I'm usually not that big on alternating POV books but it was so effective for this story. I think rape culture is prevalent and this book talks about it in a real way. I have recommended it to several people already and will continue to do so.
This book is as incredible in writing as it is important in its message. I have not been able to stop thinking about it since I put it down - you know a books is amazing when it literally changes how you think about the world and culture around you. Loved the three narratives/POVs. McGinnis was able to nail all of their voices uniquely and believably. The ending devastated me in the best of ways. Cannot wait for her future books.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was voluntarily provided a free review copy by the publisher.
Whether it’s the characters, the storyline, or the writing, it sticks with you and changes how you think...Read more