Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Narrated by Amanda Dolan,
Justis Bolding & Dan Bittner
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A contemporary YA novel that examines rape culture through alternating perspectives.

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.

Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.

As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.



“But boys will be boys, our favorite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll.”
We're raised to know the difference between right and wrong, but who actually determines what those are? If your child was murdered, would it be wrong for you to seek your own justice? Would you feel bad about exacting revenge on someone that hurt you or a person you cared about? Where do you draw the line? It's easy to look at someone else's life and judge their decisions based on what we think we know, but we honestly have no idea what another person has lived through.

The Female of the Species was a lot darker than I originally expected it to be. The synopsis alone tells you that Alex killed someone and got away with it, but the reasons behind the murder feel... justified. I know that sounds awful, because killing for any reason should be wrong, but it was hard for me to feel that way when I was so caught up in Alex's thoughts and feelings. What would I have done in her situation? 

Alex was a little off kilter from the beginning. She knew she had issues with rage and controlling her actions. Her best friend over the years was a punching bag her father left behind. She didn't understand what made her this way, and none of her research provided answers. Alex could never accurately identify what she believed to be wrong with her, but she was perceptive, thoughtful, and incredibly protective of others. Alex had a way of appreciating people that she knew very little about. Her worldview may have been a little skewed, but she was able to rationalize everything in a way that made sense. I guess you could say she used her "powers" for good, but that didn't make it any easier to read about. 

Jack and Peekay (thought it was PK while listening to the audiobook because it stands for Preacher's Kid) were interesting perspectives, too. Jack's job at a slaughterhouse was a little too detailed for my liking, and I could have done without that information being included in the book (wish I could erase it out of our reality, too), but I do understand the point the author was trying to make. Sometimes we have to do something we don't like in order to achieve something better. Peekay had the best parents, and not because they were religious. They were understanding and accepting of their daughter, her lesbian friend, and didn't try to invoke the wrath of God just because she drank alcohol and went to a party. 

I thought The Female of the Species raised a lot of important questions about rape, acceptance, and the punishments given to those who are "evil." It also shows us how speaking up or choosing to remain silent can have unforeseeable consequences in life. Not speaking up about an attempted rape allows that person to try again in the future. Could you live with the guilt if they were successful? What if someone else was hurt because you were too afraid to say something? This book also shows a victim's internal conflict between embarrassment, humiliation, anger, resentment, and a wide range of other emotions. Making the decision to call the police may seem simple on the surface, but is a lot more difficult in reality. 

I cannot tell you if you should read this book or not, because I know the content will be hard for a lot of people to stomach, but I do think it delivers an important message. We live in a world where people are raped and murdered. Animals are abused and neglected (Alex and Peekay work at an animal shelter, so there are a few uncomfortable situations involving animals) with little or no consequence. It might not be the easiest thing to talk about, but what happens if we ignore it? It doesn't go away or stop happening. 

This book had me hooked from the very beginning. I enjoyed the alternating perspectives and how honest everyone was with themselves. It was refreshing to read about teenagers that felt authentic. People admitted their flaws and failures, while also expressing their hopes and desires. I thought I knew how this story was going to play out, but I was wrong. This book kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. The Female of the Species will leave you feeling raw and conflicted, but also a little hopeful.

"You can love someone down to their core and they can love you right back just as hard, and if you traded diaries you’d learn things you never suspected. There’s a part of everyone deep down inside of them not meant for you. And the sooner you learn that, the easier your life is gonna be."

“There are laws in place that stop us from doing things. This is what we tell ourselves. In truth we stop ourselves; the law is a guideline for how to punish someone who is caught.”

35 comments:

  1. it sounds different and interesting. To see how the actions we could condemn easily are here changed, I think I would be curious to see and understand all that as well

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    1. Alex said something in the book that really stuck with me. Most people have violent impulses, but we choose not to act on them. An example: Driver A cuts off Driver B on the highway, and Driver B starts having thoughts about ramming their car into the back of Driver A's car. The thoughts themselves are harmless, and most people sate those desires simply by thinking them and allowing them to play out in their heads. However, there are also those people that do exactly what they're thinking and ram their car into the offending driver. There's a line that some people are afraid/don't want to cross, and others have no issue with. It was interesting to read about a person that does what she's thinking despite the consequences.

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  2. I might not be the right audience for this book (quote: "the content will be hard for a lot of people to stomach" - I'm fairly sure I'm one of them...)...but great review nevertheless! I'm enjoying your insight and your style 🙂.

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    1. Thank you! I'm a big believer in reading things that challenge my perspective and help me experience things that I wouldn't otherwise have any knowledge about. The Female of the Species discusses rape, Before I Let You Go was about addiction and abuse, etc. Yes, I like to read books for fun, but I also want read books that make me more aware of what's happening in the world we live in.

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  3. This sounds pretty grim. I do like books that push me out my comfort zone and make me think but I don't think I could do this one at the moment. :(

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    1. I do think you need to be in the right headspace for this book, and know what to expect before you start so there are no surprises. However, I do think it's a book that needs to be read. Rape is something that happens in our society, and something teenagers need to be aware of (and adults). Teenagers are more susceptible to date rape drugs and peer pressure, because that's just part of being young. I think McGinnis highlights scenarios a lot of us are familiar with. We may have been to parties where nothing bad happened, but that doesn't mean our peers can say the same.

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  4. McGinnis leans dark, which I why I don't read her books, but I have heard this is a very powerful book, and am glad it's out there for people, who need stories like this.

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    1. This was my first book by Mindy McGinnis! I really enjoyed this one and how impactful it was, so I plan on reading her other books in the future. You're right... books like this do need to exist, because these problems exist. It was dark book, but some people would say that about their lives. I think McGinnis handled this story in a tactful and brutally beautiful way.

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  5. I agree that the content is dark and could be triggering for some readers, but I also agree that it's an incredible powerful read. I read it last year and it still gets to me whenever I think about it. Great review!

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    1. I don't like the idea of rape and abuse, but I still see the need for books like this. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that can relate to the content, despite how dark and difficult it was. People cannot continue to stick their heads in the sand when something uncomfortable comes up. Yes, people should read what they want! I also think people should read things that make them better and more understanding.

      Every time I think of this book I get chills!

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  6. That sounds like it would be a hard book to read.

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    1. There are a lot of difficult topics addressed, but I think the author handled them really well. It's a book that speaks volumes about the world we live in today,

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  7. Flaws and failures?! YA peeps have those? =D

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    1. Haha! I think everyone has flaws and failures! They just might not always be mentioned in books... ;)

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  8. I bought this book a while ago based on a review that I read and then kind of forgot all about it. I need to put this one closer to the top of the pile. I do enjoy darker stories from time to time.

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    1. I had to be in the right headspace for this one, and I was reading something a little lighter to take the edge off. I bounced back and forth between the two, but this one was so hard to put down. I hope you have a chance to read it soon!

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  9. I can imagine the descriptive of the slaughterhouse was especially difficult to listen to, especially being a vegan. I think for non vegans it's probably a little too much to digest. I can understand how victims and the loved ones of victims extract their own revenge, sometimes it's the only justice victims of crime will ever see unfortunately. This sounds really confronting and with so many dark themes of violence, I'm not entirely sure I could stomach it. I do like controversial, confronting reads but this would be one of those books that I need to be in the right frame of mind to read. Absolutely brilliant review Linds, so powerful! ♥♥♥

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    1. McGinnis doesn't hold back with her descriptions! I normally enjoy how realistic a book can feel, but it's always more difficult when those realities are death and dying. The system failed Alex when they tried to prosecute her sister's murderer, so she takes things into her own hands.

      You're right... sometimes that's the only justice a family will get, but it's a slippery slope. Murder isn't something you can undo or take back--it's permanent. People get angry and lash out, which results in innocent people getting hurt.

      Based on the books you read, I do think you would enjoy this one. I've started saying, "captivating in its cruelty," because that seems to be the best way to sum this book up. It's hard to say you loved something that has so many dark themes, but it was a wonderful book. I think McGinnis did an incredible job. Let me know if you decide to read this one! I always want to know what you think. ♥

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  10. I've always wanted to read this but I was a little wary of the themes. It looks like my anxieties are founded.

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    1. If you've always wanted to read this, then you should definitely try it! Personally, I think it's worth reading more than once.

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  11. This was a book I normally wouldn't pick up, but I'm happy I did. There were a lot of uncomfortable scenes!

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    1. I was scrolling through OverDrive and stumbled across it. I thought the cover and title were interesting, but then I was sold after reading the synopsis. It was different and dark, but I think it discusses a lot of important topics. Glad you enjoyed it, too!

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  12. I'm PRETTY sure my sister owns this one, so I really need to read it soon. It's been on my radar for awhile though. I'm glad that you liked it - though that sounds strange to say since it deals with such tough topics. I love those type of books though.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I said it was "captivating in its cruelty" in a comment to someone else, but I feel like it's an accurate description. McGinnis take a tough topic and makes a story that is both important and interesting. I hope you get to read it soon! Let me know what you think. :)

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  13. Normally I’d be all over this type of book but I can’t handle animal cruelty. I just can’t.

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    1. I'm noticing a lot of people feel this way! Why is it okay to read about people getting hurt, but not animals? I'm the same way... I can read about war and battles, but if they sacrifice a cow I want to cry.

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  14. I've been warned against this one due to some of the animal stuff and I have to admit, as much as I do want to read it, I'm gonna pass. I just don't think I want to deal with it. Which is sad, because the book sounds good and your review makes it seem like it's really unnecessary. Great review!

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    1. I'm sorry if my review made you feel like the animal cruelty was unnecessary, because that wasn't my intention. I believe I said, "...but I do understand the point the author was trying to make."

      Animals are abused.
      People are raped.
      Bad things happen EVERY DAY.

      Why are we comfortable reading about murder and violence, but animal cruelty is different? There are horrible people in this world willing to do terrible things, and the author didn't shy away from the different ways people can be cruel. I said I could have done without it, but the content was still important and relevant.

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    2. There were a lot of things about this book that made it difficult to read, but the story was captivating in its cruelty, and I think it showed a realistic perspective of our society.

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    3. Maybe someday I'll step outside my comfort zone. I really have heard such good things about the plot and I remain really curious.

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    4. Let me know if you do decide to read it! I'd love to hear your thoughts. <3

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  15. This sounds like a very dark, but also such an important read. It's definitely on my TBR still, so thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. Yes to both! It's dark but discusses a lot of important topics. I hope you're able to read it soon! If you like audiobooks, this one was great.

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  16. I've heard this is dark and think that is why I have put it off. I have heard it is really good though so it stays on my TBR. One day!

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    1. I think you have to be in the right mindset for it, and definitely know what to expect before diving in. Although, I was still surprised by most of what happens throughout the book. I'd love for you to read it and share your thoughts!

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