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The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

So I have a lot of mixed feeling about this book. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and most of the themes were spot on. But one of the main characters, Alex, she just kinda scares me. And I feel like the ending doesn't do her justice. I wanted more for her, and I'm sad she didn't get it. There will be spoilers after this point, so read with caution.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
A Little Background

The Female of the Species focuses around three alternating points of view: Alex, Peekay, and Jack. Alex is the sister of the dead girl, Anna. That is how everyone refers to her in the beginning of the book. Peekay is the Preachers Kid, P K, ya get it? The kids that thought one up didn't stretch their imaginations too far for that one. And Jack is the guy every guy wants to be, and the guy every girl wants to be with. He's the star of every sport, attractive, smart, funny, what have you. Although Peekay and Jack were already in a similar group of friends, Alex wasn't friends with anyone; she went through her daily motions without talking to anyone, or doing anything special: school, shelter, home. That is until Alex and Jack learn that they are both neck in neck for Valedictorian and Peekay and Alex are both volunteering at the animal shelter for one of their classes. 

Relationships form between Alex and Jack, and you see a new Alex emerging, as well as a more mature Jack. And the friendship between Alex and Peekay becomes as strong as possible when Alex saves her from being date raped at a party. 

But Alex has a dark secret: she killed the man that raped and murdered her sister. She does not regret it either. Alex is the scariest form of a vigilante in that she does not think, she just reacts, and her reactions are deadly. And by the end of the book, that man is not her only victim. When Jack learns of Alex's threatening past, he cannot handle it and returns to the arms of Branley, his longtime on-again-off-again girlfriend/friend with benefits/best friend. 

However, he cannot deny his feelings for Alex, even though there are parts of her that scare and worry him. The two reconcile and plan their lives together, until everything comes crashing down one final time.

A Little Sweet, a Little Salty, All Scary True

  • So the thing that really gets me with this book is how scary Alex is. I mean, I like her when she begins to open up, but I have a feeling that no matter what, I'd cross the street if our paths crossed. She is deadly, literally, and she does not hide it from the reader. Her first words to the reader are "This is how I kill someone." (p. 1) From there on, I was scared of a fictional character. There were points where I even questioned if I should keep reading; but I loved the parts told by PeeKay and Jack, so I pushed through.
(Source: Giphy)
  • As much as Alex scares me, she's real. She tells everyone exactly what she's thinking. She chooses words carefully, but does not cherry coat anything. There were many times where I thought "Man, this girl needs to write a philosophy book, she knows what's up." 
"Venting your primal self in an emotional moment can be more than your socially constructed self can handle after the fact..." (p. 99)

"Ray Parsons, you have no soul,' she says, her voice gaining volume as she speaks. 'You are a bag of skin. You are a pile of bones. Every cell that has ever split inside of you was a waste of energy. Where you walk you leave a vacuum. Your existence should cease." (p. 142)

"I didn't have anything for a long time,' she says. 'All I knew was my house and school. There was a path in between the two I never left, like a sleepwalker. You woke me up, Claire. Pushed me off it and made me see other paths, other people. Do you realize I wouldn't even be going to college if it wasn't for you?...College won't change anything between us, Claire,' she says. 'The kind of friendship we have doesn't just stop." (pp. 312-314)

  • I really loved Jack with Alex. How he realized that there is more to a relationship than just sex; that when a relationship becomes comfortable, it doesn't mean it's over, it's just beginning; that there is that one person that just lights up everything around you even though you didn't realize you were in the dark. And I love how he knows that when he is briefly with Branley again, he can tell the difference between their physical love and the internal love he had with Alex. And I love that the last thing he wanted to tell her was that he wasn't with Branley, that he couldn't do that to her, and she says she knows because he's a good guy.
(Source: Giphy)
  • This book is not for the faint of heart. This book is raw and unfiltered, and I don't just mean the language. Some of the big themes in this book are murder, rape, consent, and instinct. A police officer, during an assembly, tells the students that 1 of the 5 girls in the front row will be raped, and when a guy says that he hopes it's Branley, the cop responds that 1 in 6 of the guys will be the one to do it. He does not sugar coat a thing. Peekay is roofied and almost date raped. Alex's sister was raped, and not just with the usual thing, but with random objects when the guy got bored. Then she was murdered and found in pieces. The last few chapters are probably the most horrifying. Attempted rape, fights, a gun shot, and Alex ending up dead (and Mindy McGinnis does not skimp on the details). However, through all of these different terrifying acts, more and more people realize it's not okay to make rape jokes, or call someone a slut. Yes, it happened because something worse happened, but they learned.
I really wasn't sure what to expect out of this book. All I knew about it was that it was about a girl who's sister was killed. I figured it would be some happy fluff novel, sprinkled with feminism. Happy and fluff are two words I would never use to describe this book. Although there are happy fluffy moments, the knowledge the reader is given about Alex's past early on makes it hard to enjoy the happy moments. You know what's she's capable of, and she was only a freshman then. She had no problem ripping out Ray's earring, along with a chunk of his nose and ear, when he was attempting to rape Peekay. And although she felt remorse about killing Sarah's uncle, a child molester, she had not guilt in the fact that another horrible person was no longer around. 

I really wish she hadn't died though. She probably would have spent the rest of her life in prison, but now Jack is alone and brokenhearted; and Peekay is regretful; if she had reported Ray the first time, he would not have shown up the Church (an old stone church where high school kids hang out, drink, screw, etc) and attempted to rape Branley while Jack was being restrained and forced to watch, which would mean that Alex wouldn't have gone in there, grabbed Ray's shotgun and shot him, and then Ray's friend wouldn't have pummeled her into the rocks, killing her. Two recent high school graduates should not have to go through that. Alex should not have died.

In the end though, I don't know how I feel. This book has left me a mess of emotions: sadness, hatred, hope...and a little broken.

Rating: 7/10
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller

Because I don't want to end on a downer, here's a bunch of cute animals!

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

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