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The Female of the Species

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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.

368 pages, Paperback

First published September 20, 2016

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About the author

Mindy McGinnis

25 books3,818 followers

Mindy McGinnis is an Edgar Award-winning novelist who writes across multiple genres, including post-apocalyptic, historical, thriller, contemporary, mystery, and fantasy.

While her settings may change, you can always count on Mindy’s books to deliver grit, truth, and an unflinching look at humanity and the world around us.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,084 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
September 24, 2016
This is how I kill someone.
And I don’t feel bad about it.

BRUTAL. That's how I would describe this book. It sits there all unassuming with its cute yellow cover and pictures of animals, but underneath it has some serious fangs. Rather like the female of the species, I suppose.

Quick warning: this book may not be suitable to those sensitive to rape and/or animal cruelty. Make no mistake, it's a nasty book. At times it's absolutely disgustingly awful. But it's a very sharp and effective look at sexual assault and rape culture too. And somehow so fucking funny. Well, maybe if you have a sadistic sense of humour, which it turns out I do.

I don't even know how to adequately explain it. The Female of the Species is told from the perspective of three different characters - Alex, whose sister was raped and murdered; Jack, the popular guy who desperately wants to get to know Alex; and Peekay, the preacher's kid whose ex-boyfriend ditched her for the beautiful Branley, and who now works at the animal shelter with Alex.

Alex is haunted by her sister's murder. She is detached, strange, and knows there's something wrong with her. That there always has been. When she kills her sister's murderer and gets away with it, she realizes she might not be able to stop.

It's a very dark, unflinching look at rape culture, slut-shaming and the long-lasting effects of sexual assault; not just on the victims, but on those close to them.
I’m living my life waiting for the man who comes for me like one did for Anna, with hungry eyes behind the wheel and rope in the trunk.
I’m ready.

All of the characters are so complex and well-developed, not just in themselves but also in their relationships with their families and each other. Obviously, we know we shouldn't agree with Alex's methods of taking the law into her own hands, but it's difficult to not adore her and see her as a kind of twisted hero. There's a lot of examples like that in this book - the fine line between what we know we should do and what we really feel.

So many interesting tidbits about human nature are woven into the story. Alex's straight-talking unravels why we do the things we do, and the misconeptions we hold about other people and relationships. Also, she does an amazing takedown of slut-shaming:
"You shouldn't be that way about her," Alex says. "I hear what people say and I bet half of it isn't even true. And even if it is - fine. She's no different from you and me; she wants to have sex. So let her…She likes boys, and she can get them. You were hurt by that, but it wasn't Branley who hurt you. It was Adam."

There are so many ways this could have ended, but the author chose the one that hit the hardest. Right in the feels. It's like someone just punched my heart right out of my chest. It was completely evil and the perfect ending to a book like this.

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Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
March 23, 2019
4.5 stars! This book was a TRIP!! So though-provoking and refreshing. This is a book that discusses important social issues through the lens of really well-developed characters and a suspenseful story. It taps into the darkness and brutal nature of our humanity in a way that’s jarring, but real. A book I’d highly recommend to anyone!

TW: sexual assault, physical assault,

In the week’s following me finishing the book (mind you, I finished it in two days), I felt like I read it too fast to fully process everything that went on. I decided to read it AGAIN and basically finished in one sitting! This is absolutely a book I could read over and over and get more out of it every time. In my first reading, I actually underestimate how well constructed the story is – I felt it was lacking some development, but with a second reading, I realized how complex all components of the story are. I could not be more pleased that I finally picked this one up.

One of my favorite things about The Female of the Species is that while it is a contemporary story, it reads like a thriller! Mindy McGuiness writes the story in such a chilling, atmospheric way that a sense of suspense follows you the entire time. I found it to be a very unique use of mood and tone for young adult books.

I ADORE the characters in The Female of the Species. Alex is the perfect anti-hero – Vengeful resilient, and morally gray. Honestly, she can be scary at times, but she also has a soft spot where you can’t help but want the best for her. Jack was surprisingly charming. He’s the star athlete and up for valedictorian, but he’s only the perfect student because he wants to escape poverty and live a more stable life. He’s the epitome of a teenage boy, meaning he is often driven by his hormones, but he is truly a good guy with a kind heart who wants to treat others fairly. As the only protagonist, he provides a thoughtful perspective on how men react to rape culture, which was beautifully done. Peekay was also a character I wasn’t super drawn to at the start, but she quickly grew on me. I loved watching her character growth as she gained awareness of herself and the people around her. It also plays with some high school stereotypes as a way to break them down which I appreciated seeing. The characters in this book are so multifaceted while still retaining the authentic nature of teenagers, which left me really impressed.

The Female of the Species is incredibly thematic. It examines the lines between right and wrong, human nature and animal instinct, justice and corruption. It provides a thoughtful commentary on rape culture, the treatment of women, slut-shaming, and feminism. If gender equality and just treatment for sexual abusers are things you care about, this is an absolute MUST read.

This book was REALLY REALLY great. I’m super excited to read more from Mindy McGuiness based on my first experience with her work. The refreshing writing, well-rounded characters, social commentary, and intoxicating plot work together perfectly to create a book that will remain at the top of my recommendations list for young adult contemporaries.
Profile Image for Leigh Bardugo.
Author 75 books149k followers
August 13, 2016
A very difficult read and some of its early chapters left me reeling. I confess I went into this book expecting a feminist, Dexter-esque, wish-fulfillment experience, and I was here for it. Instead, I got a painful, complicated, ultimately redeeming story about the insidiousness of rape culture and what it takes to dismantle it.

Watching flawed characters grapple with learned sexism and internalized misogyny is not always a comfortable thing, and though I was surprised by some of the choices McGinnis made, I was so impressed by the way she balanced the political and the personal. The final pages left me with tears in my eyes and a heart full of anger and hope.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,571 reviews33.9k followers
February 13, 2017
"You see it in all animals - the female of the species is more deadly than the male."

4.5 stars Holy shit, this is good. It sounds like it's going to be a revenge thriller, and it is--but it's also a searing takedown of rape culture and a merciless examination of the way violence begets violence. Riveting prose, three clear POVs, and a relentless story that doesn't try to provide answers, but forces you to think about the things we excuse legally and socially. In a year in which we've stood by and watched Brock Turner get a slap on the wrist, seen serial abusers publicly disparage the victims they attacked, and witnessed the repeated objectification of women on a national platform, this could not be more timely. I wish this book were in the hands of all teenagers, boys and girls, for the invaluable conversation piece that it is. There are a fair number of contemporary YA "issue" novels that deal with rape or abuse, but this one, in the guise of a thriller, hits home intellectually and emotionally in a way I haven't seen before.

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.

There are a few things you have to accept for the purposes of the story, the biggest of which is a logistical issue . I'm okay with looking past that, however, because the author provides enough convincing detail to make it worthwhile. The only thing that really niggles me a bit (aside from a slightly rushed ending) is that, in my view, Alex's feelings for Jack develop and progress a bit too quickly to fit the near-feral, loner mindset she was in. There's definitely chemistry between them, but I was still never fully convinced the two of them would have been a thing that quickly, especially considering his background and baggage. However, I liked that Alex didn't judge Jack or other girls for his past, I liked the way a real obstacle came between them , and I liked the fantastic way the story ended. OVARIES OF STEEL, Ms. McGinniss.

Bonus: there isn't the faintest whiff of the type of pretentious posturing and tiresome smoke-and-mirrors plotting that's become so popular in YA thrillers lately. (I'm looking at you, We Were Liars.) This book has things to say, and the writing cuts like a razor so that words nearly bleed off the page.

I'm really pissed off at the weirdly quirky cover art for this book, however. WTF is that? It does absolutely no justice to the intensity of the blistering words and emotions inside. This book is full of feminine rage, and while some readers might flinch at the violence within, I think it's rage that's been justly earned.

Trigger warnings for violence, sexual and otherwise.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,615 followers
August 6, 2019

Be prepared

I just wasn't going to read this book. I just wasn't. I bought it because I thought it was going to be something I liked. Then I saw some warnings about things in the book and I thought, if I pick up this book I'm going to throw it across the room. I almost did a few times.


I didn't

and I loved it

All of the animal abusers and rapists of any sort should burn. It's just that simple.

and I really don't care if no one feels the same as I do. I just don't care any more.

I loved Alex Craft. I wish she was my best friend. She's my role model. She's a murderer. She hurts evil people and she cares for animals. I love her.

This is how I kill someone.
I learn his habits, I know his schedule. It is not difficult. His life consists of quick stops to the dollar store for the bare minimum of things required to keep this ragged cycle going, his hat pulled down over his eyes so as not to be recognized.

Alex had a sister once. She was raped, tortured and killed. Yes, it is graphic, the telling of what was done to her and how they found her in pieces. The b@stard was not sentenced. But he was killed. They let that slide.

This story is about Alex, Peekay (Preacher's Kid, real name, Claire) and Jack. There are some other people in the book, their friends, but it's mainly about them.

Alex and Peekay work at the animal shelter together and they become friends. Alex calls her by her real name. Alex is different and I like her. Alex takes care of the animals with a tender heart. Once again, I love her. They had to go and pick up some puppies that were thrown out of a window by some piece of sh*t. Peekay has thoughts of bodily harm herself but they are only thoughts. I can understand what she means.

I imagine a rusted-out truck, a guy wearing a T-shirt with ripped-out sleeves. I think about how he'd roll down his window, a casual question on his face until I opened the door, drag him out, and kick him in the gut over and over until he's making the same noises those puppies probably made.

Jack is just a guy at school that sleeps around but starts to fall for Alex. Alex has never had a boyfriend. She's too damaged and dangerous, but that doesn't mean she can't love. And they do, for a time.

The books didn't help me find a word for myself; my father refused to accept the weight of it. And so I made my own.

I am vengeance.

This story has so many things going for it. I love the author's writing. You feel every little thing these kids go through. Even the few times the parents are in the book. All of these kids learn to be friends in one sense or another. I love that they can put all of the things aside and just be friends.

I love that Alex is so tough and never backs down from taking up for her friends. For someone that never really had any, she's a damn great one to have. Peekay thought so too.

No, I didn't know. Everyone else wants to talk about the Alex who tore Ray Parson's nose off when he tried to hurt me, the Alex who tortured the man who killed her sister, the Alex who burned a child molester alive and blew a rapist away with a shotgun blast. Nobody wants to talk about the girl who held kittens in the palm of her hand, humming to them while they fed, or the girl who would pick fleas off a dog for hours. Because nobody knew her.

This book truly got to me. I loved everyone and hated many. It made me rage and cry. It tore my feels into a million pieces. It is one of my favorites.


The ending broke my heart =(

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
June 22, 2018
congratulations! semifinalist in goodreads' best young adult fiction category 2016!


where to fucking begin?

this is going to be a hugely polarizing book. if you're easily made squeamish by naughty language, depictions of teenagers drinking, doing drugs, having sex, or by violence (animal, people, sexual) or are otherwise a highly sensitive person, this book will probably play too rough for you. but considering how very often some of the events covered in this book make the news, the world probably plays too rough for you.

this book is important, honest, and in many ways realistic and it should be required reading for teenagers, but especially for teen girls. it's definitely full of lessons boys should learn, but there are even more here for girls. i say "lessons" like it's some kind of staid primer on etiquette, but it is far from that. it's a gritty whipcrack of a book that has strong characters and story, but is also peppered with frank depictions about all the insidious ways rape culture manifests in the day-to-day, and about gender, behavior, teen sexualization, peer pressure, slut-shaming, jealousy, sexting, and female rage.

i will likely reference this movie a lot in the course of this review.

this story is told from three first-person POVs: alex craft, who found her own path to justice when her older sister's rapist/murderer walked on a technicality - and then never walked again, peekay, the preacher's kid; the epitome of girl next door, but the actual girl next door, not the stereotypical angel - she'll drink and is pro push-up bra, and she's representing everygirl here, and jack - the golden boy who has looks, smarts, popularity, talent, the cheerleader on his arm, a colorful sexual history and now, an interest in alex.

I want to know what she looks like with tousled hair. I want to know what the scar on her wrist is from. I understand now why my mom always asks me if I'm interested in any girls as opposed to if I like them.

I like Branley. I've always liked Branley.

I'm interested in Alex.

after her sister anna was killed, and alex gave in to her darker impulses, she's remained on the sidelines of the high school experience; the perfect vantage point to study the oftentimes disturbing interactions of her peers. when she and peekay unexpectedly become friends, she illuminates some of her findings to peekay, pointing out the ways peekay has been unconsciously contributing to the "boys will be boys" attitude that ends up hurting girls and poisoning the sisterhood. she doesn't use that word, but she's definitely a feminist mouthpiece whose lectures would perhaps be off-putting if they weren't coming from a mostly likable character whose odd way of talking is largely due to experiencing life through books instead of getting her teen socialization in a more traditional way.

throughout the book, there are many examples of disturbing behavior that has become normalized - nude photos sent to an ex by a girl dating someone else, to reel him in for some nostalgic casual sex, locker-room details about what female classmates look like naked and what noises they make during intercourse, girls bathroom-graffiti tearing down other girls, girls determining their own worth in terms of sexual currency, being oddly pleased when guys look at your tits when talking to you, or ogle them without the courtesy of a conversation, bitchy remarks over the provocative way another girl is dressed. ("She looks nice," says alex), slut-shaming the girl who "stole" peekay's boyfriend,

"You shouldn't be that way about her," Alex says. "I hear what people say and I bet half of it isn't even true. And even if it is - fine. She's no different from you and me; she wants to have sex. So let her…She likes boys, and she can get them. You were hurt by that, but it wasn't Branley who hurt you. It was Adam."

and it's accepting all these thoughtless behaviors that perpetuates the dynamic where girls turn on other girls instead of holding boys accountable for their actions.

Tonight they used words they know, words that don't bother people anymore. They said bitch. They told another girl they would put their dicks in her mouth. No one protested because this is our language now.

some of the examples were a bit on the prudish side. yes, the guy humping the basketball was maybe sexualizing gym class in a way that someone would find uncomfortable, but we don't know what gender he was imagining that basketball to be, and sex-gestures are not made by boys alone. i've been known to make handy or blowie gestures or even full on penetrating motions, even though i do not have a penis of my own. sex miming is not always threatening or violent, it depends on the context. it's juvenile, sure, but i mean no harm when i make jerkoff motions in place of saying "whatever."

but, whatever. or, rather:

over the course of the book, as alex establishes her first friendship with peekay and her first relationship with jack, these positive emotions bring her other, darker, emotions closer to the surface. she is fiercely protective of peekay, and when she is threatened one night,

alex uncages the beast. but it's not always easy to put that beast back in its cage.

it's definitely a firecracker of a book. but whatever you do, do not call alex a firecracker!

…he said, "How's my little firecracker?"

Like it was a joke, this thing inside me. A cute quirk for a girl to have, our dark leanings reduced to one word.

So I said, "I'm fine."

I'm not fine, and I doubt I ever will be.

The books didn't help me find a word for myself; my father refused to accept the weight of it. And so I made my own.

I am vengeance.

and she's just excellent at being vengeance.

it's not all horror and violence - there are bright shiny spots of hope and positivity. there is a scene with peekay and her friend sara having a tricky conversation with peekay's parents that is both hilarious and emotional and an example of excellent parenting.

and the relationships between all of the female characters, as trust grows and resentments change, is beautifully, naturalistically, handled. alex and jack's romance is also sweet, in the way it changes jack's priorities and allows alex some happiness, albeit a complicated happiness.

I text Alex and tell her good night, she responds with the same, and I hold my phone tightly, too aware that the present is all we have if I can't mention the past and she won't talk about the future.

but alex is a complicated kind of girl - she's lived through an experience that shattered her family - turning her mother into an alcoholic who never leaves the house,

Nothing is ours; nothing is sacred. The one thing we shared was pulled into pieces, memorialized and mythologized so that everyone could participate in it. When she was missing, Anna's picture was tacked in so many places around town it's what I see when I think of her, not her actual face. I see that picture next to a lost cat poster and a lawn-mowing service advertisement.

I learned later they did find that cat.

and has darkened her entire worldview

Anna told me I would understand about boys one day. She said that everything would change and I would look at them differently, assess their bodies and their words, the way their eyes moved when they talked to me. She said I'd not only want to answer them, but I'd learn how, knowing which words to use, how to give meaning with a pause.

Then a man took her.

A man took her before I learned any of these things. He took her and kept her for a while, put things inside of her. Of course the obvious thing, but also some others, like he was curious if they'd fit. Then he got bored. Then he got creative.

Then my sister was gone and I thought: I understand about boys now.

And she was right. Everything did change. I look at them differently and I assess their bodies and watch their eyes and weigh their words.

But not in the way she meant.

this book definitely left its mark on me. i murmured "holy shit" several times while reading it, because it is SO FAR beyond what YA lit of my youth was,and the fact that books like this are necessary (and they are), is depressing.

it's not perfect - i have some logic-questions, and alex is just a little too knowing for her age and experiences, but a book that reminds girls to be cautious and self-respecting and to call dudes out on their bullshit, and reminds guys to be respectful and that stupid decisions have consequences, well - i'm a fan.

not everyone will appreciate being punched in the face by a book.

but i do.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews48.1k followers
January 2, 2019
Okay. Before we get into this, I just want to say that the lens through which I’ll be judging this book feels unfair even to me (and that’s saying something because I rain hell on young adult contemporaries like they’re calling themselves the 21st century Ulysses), but the book brought it on itself!

(Note: At the moment, there are unmarked spoilers in the comments of this review. Please be aware so you don't spoil yourself.)

I went through the entirety of this thing thinking it was just ya average contemporary. I finished it being like, Um, okay, that was, uh...kinda weird, but I wasn’t ANGRY or anything. (Pretty rare for a just-finished-a-contemporary version of me!)

Then I read the synopsis. Particularly this little first-line number:

A contemporary YA novel that examines rape culture through alternating perspectives.


The f*ck?

If this is supposed to be an examination of rape culture, LITERALLY WHAT. It could not be more sloppy. If you told me, “This was an edgy, kind of gritty contemporary, and then the publisher told the author to make rape culture a theme 45 minutes before it was due to the bookbinder, or whatever we do to physically print books in 2017,” I’d be like, yeah, okay.

In other words, this is exclusively an impressive look at rape culture in that incredibly specific hypothetical I just made up in which the time frame is roughly as long as the amount of time it takes to make brownies.


(The caps lock is to symbolize the fact that I actually literally screamed out those words as I typed them. In real, actual life.)

There are a bunch of reasons why this is an unsatisfactory, incomplete, terrible examination of rape culture. Let’s talk about some of them.

ONE: Bringing in negative elements of rape culture without fully condemning or resolving them

There’s a sh*t ton of girl hate in this book. There is a hell of a lot of slut-shaming. The most consistent villain (in spite of the presence of murderers, rapists, and absentee parents) is a cheerleader.

All of this could be useful if it were condemned. Or if character development hit those who were participating in it. Or even if somebody went to Hallmark, bought an I’m Sorry card and f*cking signed it.

BUT NONE OF THAT HAPPENS. Because the ending occurs like 6 pages after the climax. SO NOTHING IS RESOLVED. More on that later.

TWO: Rape culture is just this thing that exists, intrinsically part of society, for reasons no one is aware of

Who the ever-living hell cares about an “““examination of rape culture””” if it offers no goddamn explanation for its existence? This book just, like, kind of sort of shows what rape culture is (if rape culture were to exist in a world populated with the most unrealistic, improbable humans of all time - but we’ll talk more about that later) without offering any reasoning as to why it’s a part of our society. NO FORM OF BIGOTRY IS AN ISLAND AS THEY SAY.

I’m halfway into a beginner level gender class and I can offer bare minimum four gender study terms off the top of my head! Which is, guess what, four more than this book even hints at! (This is not a brag; I am not an intellectual of gender studies. I literally do not even do the readings in that class.)

THREE: Rape culture is just here forever, intrinsically part of society, and there are no solutions ever at all sorry!!

Speaking of things that are an intrinsic part of societal examinations that are full-on not included in this book: We are offered no solutions. THE MAIN CHARACTER OF THIS BOOK MURDERS PEOPLE. That’s the closest we get to a “hey guys, here’s how we can stop this.” Actual, full-on, first-degree murder!!!!!!

We don’t even get a moral! I fought tooth and nail through 352 pages and we don’t even get a sense of what we can do, or how we can end this, or even how we can treat each other better. (Because, again: Unresolved girl hate. Yippee.)

FOUR: That f*cking ending!!!!

Almost all of my problems with this book stem from its sh*tty excuse for a conclusion. It’s like allllllll of the sudden, this book drops the self-importance and decides, “Hey wait, can we go back to that gritty contemporary idea??? That sounds better??? Less hard to definitively end????”

This ending features , nobody healing from the events, no idea of the future, no concrete solutions, no moral on rape culture, no ANYTHING ON RAPE CULTURE. Alex becomes famous for being a f*cking vigilante or whatever, which is so stupid I nearly went blind from dumbness overload, and then it just. Ends.

And I hate it. SO much.

FIVE: What the hell with these characters, man

An evil, obsessive cheerleader. A numb girl-murderer. Some jock with a heart of gold, maybe, but really just a d*ck that REFUSES to quit. A girl whose literal nickname is PK, for Preacher’s Kid, because that would definitely not only be widespread enough to warrant everyone recognizing it but FOR THE GIRL HERSELF TO ADOPT IT AS HER ACTUAL NAME.

They’re all so bananas. There is no way anyone like any of these people exists in real life. And so what, I beg of you, is the point of examining rape culture as it exists in our world when you’re using characters who absolutely don’t?

In true Emma fashion I don’t want to talk about this anymore, so I’m going to stop now.

Bottom line: As contemporaries go, this would have been a two and a half, three star read. But apparently this isn’t just your average contemporary, pals. It’s a fresh hell I could never have imagined.


so close, yet so far!!!

shoutout to contemporaries that decide to shoot for thematic significance in the last 20 pages, leaving dozens of loose ends and not even trying for consistently feminist rhetoric!!!

not a fan!!!!

review to come
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
January 29, 2021
“Physical attractiveness has nothing to do with it. You were alone, isolated, weak. It happened to you, but it could've been anyone. Opportunity is what matters, nothing else.”

I wanted to read the Female of the Species ever since I first saw it on Goodreads, which must've been more than a year ago. As it should happen, I was to read Mindy's newest release This Darkness Mine before I could finally dive into TFOTS. This Darkness Mine; however, prepared me to have no expectations, apart from one: they would be exceeded anyway. So much was true.

I can only join the club of the ones praising this novel without end. For several reasons.
One of the being Mindy's obvious hang for writing. She has a unique and piercing style of writing, her sense of humour is subtle, often bitter and harsh, but always immensley smart. I caught myself grinning and laughing while I was reading on the underground. Other times I completely forgot the world around me and was pulled between the pages and into a story that is more captivating and distressing than anything else that I've read this year. Mindy's words can do that.

The second reason why this book resonated so deeply with me is the strong feminist message on every written page. This story may open your eyes to internal misogyny, rape culture and slut-shaming. If they're not open to it already. Otherwise this will serve as a brutal awakening, but also as an example of what a crucial role respect and friendship play in our lives. This book will remind you that, to fight sexism and misogyny, it is important to be outspoken and direct. Staying silent helps no one, least of all yourself.

I love that the YA book community, is so demanding it what it wants to read. That's us I'm talking about. We have only impatience for ignorance, for antiquated stories that don't represent us. We want equality and respect. We want diverse characters and depth. We demand fairness and thought. We want the real deal. And Mindy is one of the most promising authors when it comes to writing multi-layered characters and stories that matter.

I couldn't recommend this book more. If you haven't given it any thought until now, you should put this on your list. Read it as soon as possible. Talk to me about it. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for April.
146 reviews258 followers
November 26, 2017
My emotions are all over the place.😢
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,195 reviews40.6k followers
March 10, 2020
5 is not enough, it deserves 10 brutal, brilliant, heart wrenching stars!

This book is not an easy read! It tears your heart apart! It punches you several times on the face! It makes you cry aloud ! Your emotions scatter all over the places when you’re reading it!

Raw, realistic, violent, dark but definitely fantastic!
Alex is so far a different girl who only wants to be normal, she doesn’t deserve be acknowledged by her dead sister’s name, she deserves friendship, she deserves love, she deserves joy, happiness in her life. She deserves to go to college because she’s real smart. But she cannot! Because she cannot fight with her killer instincts and she cannot function as like a young girl who dreams her HEA.

Her character is definitely not Dexter. She is not sociopath, cause she feels too much and she cannot know how to deal with her feelings. She knows how to defeat the real demons in outside world but she has no idea how to defeat her inner demons . That’s what seals her destiny.

I’ve been totally shaken after the shocking end. But I have to admit that is fair ending of the story.

Some books take your piece of soul and leave unforgettable emotional scar on your hearts. It is definitely that kind of book! I loved it so much but the words and story hurt me so much, too.

Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
July 20, 2017


Alex was so interesting to read about. Her inner monologue. Her tormented life. I dug it so hard. I loved that this took place in 3 different perspectives because they all added something different to the story that by the end of the book tied together so well. This book is power. I loved it.

If anything, I'm wary about the realisticness of the events surrounding the rapes in this book. Especially in a book about really lewd high schoolers that don't seem to be afraid to harass women, I was surprised by the author's decision to have the rapists in this book be depicted as serial rapists or drug addicts. I feel like the impact would be a lot more stark if she stuck to the fact that a lot of sexual assault happens to people you're friends with or people you know. This way, the ending wouldn't feel so..... unrealistic. Hyperbolized. Idk. I think from that angle, it could have added a lot more impact.

Regardless, I think this book packs a punch and I read it in less than 12 hours. It's different than most YA contemporary that you'll read.
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,268 followers
July 8, 2022
I wish I could tell you all about this book and how it’s intense and heartbreaking, but I’m still in a daze and my heart isn’t quite ready to process it all.
Profile Image for l..
491 reviews2,073 followers
January 5, 2022
You can find my full review here!

You know those books—the ones you finish, and afterwards you come out of the experience feeling like you are a different person, and you can’t quite remember who exactly you were before? “Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul,” Joanne Harris once said.

The Female of the Species is that book.

The kind of book that leaves you lying in bed at night, staring at the ceiling blankly, while contemplating your existence and everything else you ever thought you knew.

“Oh, another book that talks about rape”, some people will inevitably think, and scoff, rolling their eyes, their thoughts probably ending somewhere along the lines of “haven’t we had enough of those already?”

But even so, The Female of the Species would not simply be “just another book that talks about rape”; it does examine rape culture, yes, but it also explores friendships, and loyalty, it talks about morals, courage, love, and it shines a light on feminism, and so many other issues that contemporaries should shine a light on, but unfortunately rarely do. And it does so flawlessly, and boldly.

“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.”

Do not let yourself be fooled by the tame, almost cute cover—cute is the least likely adjective I would use to describe the contents; this book is dark, and gritty, and full of angst. But it is also honest, hopeful, and filled with love, and compassion.

I have read my fair share of books dealing with rape, a few of which I already deemed immensely well-written, but this one … I feel like it carved out a hole in my chest, and left behind an emptiness that I don’t know how to fill, and I don’t know if I will ever stop hurting from it.
Profile Image for ALet.
279 reviews241 followers
January 19, 2019
★★ /5
At first this book was very interesting and I was pleasantly surprised by it, but sadly it went downhill for me. This book tackled important themes, but on the other hand, I didn‘t like the plot. For my taste it was too rushed and in a few cases didn‘t make sense. The writing style was okay and because of that it was easy to understand. But sadly as I mentioned before, this book wasn‘t my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,243 followers
September 20, 2016
Everyone thinks if you fix a male dog it will lower his aggression, but most of the biters are female. It’s basic instinct to protect their womb. You see it in all animals - the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

The Female of the Species is a bit harder to review because of how important a book it is. It’s a story exploring rape culture, the effects of sexual assault, over-sexualization of teenagers, gender issues, sexual objectification, and slut-shaming. Set in Ohio with alternating perspectives from Alex, Jack and Peekay.

Alex Craft’s sister Anna was raped and murdered three years ago. Due to lack of evidence, the killer walks free. Alex refuses to let that happen and gets away with her crime. Her impulses cause her to live under the radar. Known only as “the girl with the dead sister” to her classmates until forming her first friendship and things unfold from there. She’s the vigilante of the book - the one out for justice! I loved her dark nature, but also her instinct to protect those in need and come to their defense. She’s a character to be admired.
Let her know that Anna was on the minds of everyone today. Something that rightfully belongs to only us resurrected once again as a cautionary fairy tale, a warning to all of the Little Red Riding Hoods that there are wolves in the forest.

Jack is the star athlete on track for valedictorian. He’s that guy who loves girls. He also happened to be there in a crass sort of way the night Anna’s body was discovered, so he feels bad for his part. He wants so badly to get to know Alex.

Peekay is the preacher’s kid who was recently dumped for Branley leading to plenty of slut-shaming moments. She is doing her Senior Year Experience at the animal shelter with Alex who may be the first person to see her in a different light that doesn’t scream “daughter of preacher.” A beautiful friendship is developed.
Because there are others like him still. Tonight they used words they know, words that don't bother people anymore. They said bitch. They told another girl they would put their dicks in her mouth. No one protested because this is our language now.

Humanity is examined. Human nature vs animal nature. Instinct. Violence. The world we allow ourselves to live in because some of these actions are viewed as “normal.” Or when we let him get away with it because wearing that short skirt is “asking for it.”

It’s quite eye-opening to those who have never experienced what it is like to be a woman. I explained a few different instances where I was sexually harassed in “minor” ways to my significant other and he was shocked that being a female opens you up to that kind of treatment. But it’s real and it happens. Being a teenager, you think you’re as mature and knowing as it gets, but you’re not. And being told you have to go further and have sex with someone or they won’t take you home is NOT okay. Date rape is not okay. Any form of making you feel like your body is not yours and yours alone is wrong. This book brought out emotions in me I didn’t know I still had. It took me to a deeper place I’m usually too afraid to go. I found myself envious of Alex, not because she was a vigilante but because she did something about it.

I cannot recommend this book enough for the relevance of it’s message. Mindy McGinnis presents it in a way that is beautifully written, dark, and impactful. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Kayla Dawn.
291 reviews894 followers
May 22, 2019
Mindy McGinnis is very talented.

It's so fascinating how she's able to actually have a different writing style for every point of view. You do not have to check who's pov you're currently reading because you'll know just by how they are thinking, speaking and acting.
Most books I read that have more than one pov were not able to do that, especially not as GOOD as this one is doing it!
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,019 reviews15.7k followers
February 10, 2018
5 brutally brilliant stars🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Wow! This book was brutal, dark, raw, and reel.....

Violence begets violence... Alex has always had a little something... a little spark of anger in her.... and her sister kept it in check.;. until her sister was raped and murdered....

Then she sought vengeance..... she also felt as though she would never be normal...... when she befriended Claire and fell in love with Jack.... she felt as though perhaps she had a chance... a chance to live a normal life.....

BUT as we all know in life bad things happen....

This book made a very strong statement about rape, girls, and slut shaming.... even the words on the bathroom walls made you realize that as women or girls we need to spend more time building one another up rather than tearing each other down.... and the end of this book, so brutal, but absolutely the only way I think it could end...

In every species, the female of the species is more deadly...

An absolute must read if you are a fan of dark books with amazing characters and a powerful message! ....
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
December 30, 2016
I have Lauren and Erin to thank for this one!

"This is how I kill someone. I learn his habits, I know his schedule. It is not difficult. His life consists of quick stops to the dollar store for the bare minimum of things required to keep this ragged cycle going, his hat pulled down over his eyes so as not to be recognized. But he is. It's a small town."

Alex Craft's life was turned upside down three years earlier when her older sister Anna was murdered. The killer was exonerated, but it was clear to nearly everyone in their small town that he was guilty. Alex takes matters into her own hands, and the killer was found brutally tortured and murdered. But no one seems particularly broken up about it, and if anyone suspects Alex, their suspicions go nowhere.

As she goes through high school, she keeps to herself. She's known as the girl with the murdered sister, and she keeps herself occupied by reading and running. She doesn't mind her lonely existence—the fact is, she doesn't really trust herself around other people, because if she finds someone who raises her anger for a serious crime, she might act again in the way she did with her sister's killer. She doesn't have a problem with that, honestly, but she knows others will.

"I'm not fine, and I doubt I ever will be. The books didn't help me find a word for myself; my father refused to accept the weight of it. And so I made my own. I am vengeance."

While Alex steels herself for another situation that might provoke her instincts, she is utterly unprepared for connecting with other people, and senior year brings two intense connections—Peekay, the slightly rebellious preacher's daughter, who befriends Alex when they volunteer at an animal shelter, and Jack, the school's top athlete and biggest playboy, who is drawn to Alex in ways even he can't understand, and to the distinct satisfaction of his longtime friend-with-benefits, star cheerleader (and most beautiful girl in school), Branley.

Peekay awakens Alex's protective nature (and causes her to step outside her comfort zone), and Jack actually makes her feel special, feel wanted, feel as if what makes her so different than everyone else might not be such a deal-breaker after all.

But as senior year unfolds, and Alex's relationships intensify with both Peekay and Jack, she realizes she cannot hide who she really is, what she is driven to do. She tries as hard as she can, but her need to avenge mistreatment, violence, wrongdoing by taking matters into her own hands always wins out. She doesn't want there to be secrets, especially between her and Jack, but she knows if he discovers who she really is, they have no chance at a future anyway, so she may as well fulfill the role she feels destined to.

"There are parts of yourself that you hate; parts that you know other people wouldn't understand."

All I can say about this book is holy crap. (And that's a cleaned-up version.) This seems to be a year of unforgettable, unique characters—Letty Dobesh in Blake Crouch's Good Behavior ; Julian in Robin Roe's A List of Cages ; Ivan Isaenko in Scott Stambach's The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko ; and Evan Smoak in Gregg Hurwitz's Orphan X , just to name a few. Yet no character is like Alex Craft. She's like a cross between Lisbeth Salander and Dexter, but with more vulnerability and heart. (And I say that not to discount this book as simply a gruesome thriller, because it is so much more than that.)

Mindy McGinnis does something I've not seen in a book recently, particularly a YA book: she conveys a strong message without making the story heavy-handed or preachy. While she clearly isn't recommending that people avenge murder, rape, and other violence, she is saying that women (and men) shouldn't allow themselves to live in fear or shame, to remain a victim. I hope that message reaches the ears of those who need to hear it.

I thought this book was really amazing. It's certainly not for everyone, and it's not realistic, but that didn't detract from its appeal in any way. This is book with tremendous heart and emotion, suspense, and some violence which might be troubling for some. But McGinnis knows how to tell a story that hooked me from start to finish, and it's a story populated by characters I won't soon forget. Truly a home run, as far as I'm concerned.

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Wren (fablesandwren).
675 reviews1,501 followers
September 17, 2020

*featuring the female of my duo, Marcy Louisa and all her fluff*

This was the February Read for The Cheerful Wednesdays, and might I say that this was a heavy book.

This book is full of all kinds of triggers. There is talk of murder, rape, child pornography, animal cruelty, substance abuse and just about anything you can think of. Some of these are actual topics that should be talked about more in order for people to understand them, and for this I thank the author for not shying away from the tougher topics.

“You see it in all animals - the female of the species is more deadly than the male. Except humans.”

Alex is dealing with a lot. Her sister was brutally killed and raped and left in the woods for someone to find days later after nature took her course on her. Ever since then, she has not been the same. She doesn't actually know if she changed because of what happened or she is the way she is because her sister was the only thing holding her to the ground; but what she does know is a simple rule: people who hurt other people deserve to die, and ladies and gentlemen, she is true to her word.

See, Alex is 100% a murderer but in a Dexter-type of way. She only takes out the absolute trash of the world. She has a heart and she feels things too, but she lives off of her animal instinct. You kill those who hurt others in order to protect people. Unlike Dexter, she doesn't actually have to kill, she just is driven when the opportunity arises.

So what happens when Alex volunteers at an animal shelter and meets the pastor's kid, Peekay? She learns what it is like to have a friend.

Peekay is tired of always being associated with being the pastor's kid. She doesn't have a problem with the religion and she loves her parents with all her heart, but she wants to be known for something else for a change. With a recent break up, Peekay finds hope in her new friend and the challenges that come up along the way.

Alex and Peekay are friendship goals. They support each other, they pick each other up, and there is no "frienemies" involved. They just love and support each other, which is something a lot of our culture has lacked. Women pin each other against each other and are jealous of what they can't have. I think Alex was a refreshing break for Peekay because Alex never expected anything and was always just there to help her. They both found themselves again in their friendship which is what friendship is actually about.

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.

Now I am not going to lie, I got really, really weird vibes from Jack. I'm not sure if it was just because the author actually got into the mind of a man and went with it, or because he is actually creepy... but I will let you figure that one out yourself. His character does have some growth in it, but honestly I just didn't find him appealing. He was kind of... gross to me. Which leads me to believe that crawling into the mind of a man will literally kill all romantic notions.

One thing that really made me uncomfortable was the brutality with the animals in this book. Jack works with the butcher and is the one that takes the life of the cows, Alex and Peekay pick up dead baby animals that were thrown out of a moving vehicle... I could have lived without all those visuals and I am sorry I just put those in your head when you were 100% not asking for it. Even the emotional sadness with animals in this book almost made me just put the book down.

Little background on me: I've been a vegetarian since I was 08 years old. Some days, I am vegan. You can bet your bottom dollar I eat like my namesake: a bird. I have two rescued cats and I love all animals to the absolute fullest. I even take the time to get on Amazon Smile to make sure it donates to my appointed rescue. You can say I am a little bit of a nut job, but I am a full believer of taking care of the creatures I was put on this earth to take care of (and that also includes the earth itself... also a big recycler).

Now don't get me wrong, I will touch and make meat and I am not going to even give your food a second glance if you are eating a cheeseburger in front of me. But I never want to read about someone actually in the process of making the food that the majority of the world eats ever again. It was too heartbreaking for this tender-heart bird.

Which brings up another dilemma of mine: why did the talk of animals being killed hurt more than the idea of some of the other topics in this book? Am I that filtered? When I have talked to some of the other people who have read this book, they all felt the same way I did. Why is it that the talk of someone killing an animal is more repulsive than the talk of someone killing another human? I can watch Criminal Minds all day, but I will never watch Old Yeller again. I love war movies, but you will see me plug my ears and close my eyes when it is apparent that a horse is about to die.

I'm just bringing all of that up because I don't want people to think that I am pointing fingers. This is also a topic that I need to learn more about and talk openly with. This book is a good start to ease someone into this kind of topic and also a great one to read with a few people. I read this with my book club The Cheerful Wednesdays, and I can tell you that none of us expected this book to go as deep as it did.

Overall, this book was just a really, really heavy read. I didn't resonate with the ending too well, and I am not sure if it was because I didn't like it or because I knew it was the only way for this story to conclude. Even if you took out the romance in this book, the friendship between Alex and Peekay is worth the read. Even if you took out both the romance and the friendship, the topics touched on are worth reading and learning about.

- - -

This book is so...incredibly...heavy

2/3rds in and man, do I have so many emotions.

I feel as if I need to go smell the flowers and appreciate those people in my life who bring good things to it and possibly punch everyone who doesn’t.
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
394 reviews675 followers
June 6, 2018
Anger makes you tired, but guilt keeps you from falling asleep.

An enormously ferocious book.
More importantly, a fabulously feminist one.

I mean what do I want in a book?

► I want intriguing characters with interesting lives dealing with complicated issues, there were more than one of those in this.

► I want good writing that’s not slipped into pretentious zone, this one has that in spade.

► I want emotions, I got emotionsss.

► I want chemistry: tensions and big fireworks not just dim sparks I have to squint to see, this book got that so so surprising well. And it is fabulously feminist.

The most surprising thing is I found myself really charmed by Jack. Despite the fact that he is super crass in his pov and half the time he thinks with his neither region more than his brain. And yeah the boy was mushy as all hell but who wouldn’t love a tough boy with bit of cheese inside right?

You should consider reading this.

rating: ★★★★½
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
858 reviews3,756 followers
October 7, 2016
This book is an examination of rape culture. What if you knew your sister or your friend had been sexually assaulted? What if there's not enough evidence for the police to do anything? Would you think about taking matters into your own hands to get revenge? That's what this book is. It's the wish fulfillment of avenging sex crimes.

There are 3 points of view in this book:

There's Alex, the girl who takes revenge. Who sees someone get roofied and throws the first punch. She's the anti-hero, the morally gray character extracting vigilante justice.

There's Jack, our example of the male gaze. The inside look at 'boys will be boys.' The one who starts to feel bad for that kind of behavior.

And then there's Peekay (P.K.), the rebellious preacher's daughter who doesn't think much about how she puts other girls down. Who doesn't think much about taking drinks from strangers.

While it might seem at first that this book is kind of crass, or slut-shaming, I quickly came to realize that we had to see those examples in order for the book to start making points about them. The way that each of these characters learn from each other was a really beautiful thing.

There are many examinations of what separates human-nature from animal-nature, the difference in violent thought versus violent behavior, and what makes something right or wrong? If you've read anything else by Mindy McGinnis, you are getting that same soul-wrenching examination of humanity.

It's no secret that Mindy is one of my favorite authors, and this book just further cemented that. She took on a few new things this time: Contemporary genre, multiple POVs, male POV, more romance than usual. And she SLAYED them.

I not only loved the writing and the characters, but how there was so much to unpack from this book. It gave me a lot to digest and think about beyond just the words on the page. I really enjoyed it and thought it was well crafted.

Some things worth noting, content wise: there are descriptions of sexual assault, animal injuries, and gore. Heads up if those are personal triggers, but none of them are used superfluously.
Profile Image for Erin .
1,230 reviews1,143 followers
November 13, 2016
WOW!!! Don't let the title fool you. The Female of the Species is dark, brutal, & deadly. Mindy McGinnis weaves a tale of teenage angst, vigilante justice, & the pervasiveness of rape culture. I read this book with a knot the size of a fist in my stomach. I have a feeling I'll be thinking about the book for a long time. I recommend this book to all my fellow females & anyone who knows a female.
Profile Image for Victoria Resco.
Author 6 books24.4k followers
June 9, 2021
Este libro puede escupirme el ojo y se lo agradecería.
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews931 followers
November 13, 2018
“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.”

Read that quote again. And after reading it again you don't get tears in your eyes, not from pain but from anger, then you need to read it again.

I went into this book completely blind after having it recommended to me by a Goodreads friend. I didn't know what it was about, I didn't read any reviews and I think that decision added to the power of this book.

This story sneaks up on you. What I initially thought was going to be another typical YA thriller became anything but.

The author doesn't present the complexities of this story in an overt manner. She stealthily plants ideas into your psyche that slowly start to change your perception until, without notice or permission, you're presented with a horrifying reality that makes you question everything you've ever been taught and have taught to the girls and young women in your life.

This book is required reading for teen girls and the people responsible for their well-being. Parents, teachers, family and friends.

This story is the #metoo movement told in a way that is relatable to girls. It's empowering and eye-opening and teaches girls that what they've been conditioned to see as normal and as boys being boys is NOT OKAY.

I think the most profound lesson in this story is that girls have a voice and it's important to use it, to stand up when you see or experience something that makes you uncomfortable. Using your voice just once can ultimately save someone's life, can change a turn of events and, in time, can change the world

"You see it in all animals—the female of the species is more deadly than the male.”

Damn straight.
Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
347 reviews931 followers
May 9, 2017
"I am a wolf that my sister kept in a cage, until her hand was removed."

Going into this, I expected something similar to Hard Candy, with a really heavy focus on revenge. Reading the synopsis, I then thought perhaps I'd be subjected to a typical high school coming-of-age tale.

After reading, I discovered that this novel is actually a well illustrated criticism of society's dismissive attitude toward women's issues, rape & rape culture in particular.

I wasn't prepared for such an encompassing story to be present in a such a small book.

The writing is simple & straightforward, exemplifying how conversations regarding these subjects SHOULD take place. This was a smart choice on part of the author, as a more superfluous writing style wouldn't have lent the story the same kind of gravity.

Jack is a popular athlete with a brain to back up his brawn.

Peekay is the local preacher's kid struggling to rid herself of that singular, condemning label.

Alex is a murderer, and afraid that her inherent sense of justice will only lead to more bloodshed.

At the beginning, I was afraid this book would fall victim to its own characterization. The central three felt more like caricatures than actual high school kids. As the story unfolded, however, I quickly reversed my opinion.

I was taken aback by how realistic the characters became by the end of the book, each with their own tendencies, preferences, & insecurities. Their little quirks of individualism caused me to feel genuinely invested in the development of their relationships with one another.

The ideas here are dark. This is not an easy book to get through, and some of the places it takes the reader are difficult to come back from.

The Female of the Species is a book that grabs you by the face & forces you to confront your own ideas about the people you interact with. It compels you to consider the effect our relationships with others has on how we view ourselves.

Are people more than the sum of the judgments we lay at their feet?

Are they less?

Who gets to decide?

Though I enjoyed this book a lot, I am not a huge fan of the end sequence. It feels like the situation was a bit contrived, and I had my hopes pointed in a different direction than the story ended up going. But overall this small issue didn't detract much from my experience.

Mindy McGinnis has written a gem with this story. It's gritty & conscience while remaining relatable to a large audience. This isn't a book to miss out on.

This review and other reviews of mine can be found on Book Nest!
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