There is always a new book to be read. Sometimes the book will be a total bore, sometimes the book will be a pageturner. Sometimes, a book will be odd. Odd enough to unsettle you. Sitting comfortably in your nook reading the book its words, through its pages, manage to make you cringe, groan and flinch making you realise that the written word is very powerful. Sometimes in a good way and sometimes not.
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis was a book I picked up just for the cover and its name. I did not read the blurb beforehand. The amount of surprise I got when I began the book cannot be put into words. First, The Female of the Species turned out to be YA fiction. I did not mind it as much. Second, the book blew my mind! Honestly, I am a fan of this book and am giving The Female of the Species a very fine five-star rating. This review is all about why I am doing so.
The Female of the Species is a YA revolving around a bunch of kids in a high school. And one of them is Alex Craft. Alex, sigh! Alex is not the average teenager. She has had to go through such trauma and dealt with it in her way. Her sister, Anna, went missing during Alex’s freshman year. She was later found to be raped and murdered. Her body found in a ghastly manner after a search. Already the product of a broken home, this trauma adds to the chaos that was Alex’s mind. When the only accused in that crime is acquitted, Alex decides to mete out the punishment. She kills him. And gets away with it. This incident gives us an insight into Alex’s psyche. As all this happens in the very first chapter, you become quite acquainted with Alex. And by the end of the book, one has a bond with her that is endearing.
Into this melee, come Jack and Peekay. Peekay is Alex’s schoolmate and co-worker at the animal shelter. She is also the Preacher’s Kid, therefore Peekay, who goes on to become Alex’s best friend. Jack is the golden boy, fitting the high school heartthrob cliche to a T. Then he falls for Alex. Normal kids getting along with someone very unlike them. These three characters are very much like the symbiotic relationships that I learnt about in science class. They tend to live in harmony even when they are completely different species.
As one reads through, we see the subtle changes in Peekay and Jack that can be attributed to Alex’s presence in their lives. We also see the changes in Alex that are a result of Jack and Peekay’s presence in her life. It is all good. Things are going well until it is not. Alex comes to Peekay’s rescue once, and that scene is chill-inducing. Not in its gore or viciousness, but oddly, in its simplicity. Alex does get angry and hurts people, but the words that are spoken are quite like a very sharp knife slicing through one’s skin. It hurts as it happens and the burning sensation that comes with a cut immediately after hits bone-deep and lasts long.
The reader can see the end coming, perhaps not exactly as it happened, but you know it is coming. An odd premonition that left me wanting better, even if I knew it would not have worked.
The entire book is filled with an attitude – brutally honest and hard-hitting. If it is dealing with Alex’s anger or Peekay’s reaction after her assault, it is amazing how a few words can transport the reader right into the skin of the character. Maybe it is because of my gender that I felt so, that it hit me hard. However, empathizing whilst reading the text describing one’s self in an utterly vulnerable manner will not be too difficult no matter how one recognises themselves.
I cannot possibly write anything more and do justice to the magic that Mindy McGinnis has created with her words. The Female of the Species is a wonderful book, it haunts you in ways unimaginable while being a completely satisfying read.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars