Release Date: September 20, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: Purchased hardcover
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017HW, #ShelfLove, #TakeControlTBR
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.
According to the Kipling Society, The Female of the Species describes the "moral strength and single-mindedness of women throughout history, in familial and political contexts, in contrast to the weakness and vacillation of men."
"I am a wolf that my sister kept in a cage, until her hand was removed. I have been out, curious as I wake up from a lethargic solitude, self-enforced because I know I don't belong here. It's not safe for me to be out but they rattled my cage. First Claire, and then Jack. And now I'm awake, deviating from the paths I created in order to remain stable. I'm out, and awake, and afraid I won't be easily put back in."This book has quite a lot to say. And it did so very well. The parallels between that first quote and the three MC's...Alex, Peekay, and Jack embody those words.
We have Alex, who has defined herself as "vengeance" and despite believing she feels no guilt, has a very strong moral compass. She sees herself as defending the weak - those who can't protect themselves - whether they be human or cats and dogs. This side of her, while scary, was absolutely fascinating. And although she feels she doesn't belong, a part of her longs for that feeling - something I think she had when her sister was alive. She also got people to look at themselves differently...
Peekay, for example. She's always been called Peekay - preacher's kid - and didn't think anything of it. But Alex asks for and calls her by her given name, Claire. It never occurred to Peekay the statements she made without words by accepting that nickname, much less the reasons behind doing so. She allowed it to influence her identity. She's strong though and finds the depth of her inner strength after befriending Alex. I found it of particular interest that she had thoughts similar to those of Alex, the difference being that Peekay would never act on them.
Then there's Jack - who was inspired to be a better person because of Alex. He'd been curious about her and her thoughts about his character since the night her sister's body was found. And Jack, he's a good guy even if he is a cad. But he waffled in his loyalties and decisions - found it apparently difficult to stay on the right path.
And through all this, the interactions between Alex, Peekay, and Jack - the bonds of friendship forming and love blossoming -McGinnis incorporated social commentary on teen culture: rape culture, sexual objectification, the double standards regarding boy vs girl behavior. And it was brilliant! There were some difficult moments to read - this story is raw and gritty - but I also felt things were realistically portrayed. The Female of the Species is certainly thought-provoking.
This is my favorite #2017HW read so far!