#BookReview of The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Alex hates the world and everything in it… except animals. She likes animals. Alex’s sister was murdered and the killer was never caught. Alex is angry about that. It invades nearly every aspect of her life. Except her work at the animal shelter. Alex enjoys that.

Get the idea? This book was about as interesting and compelling to me as a kick in the shins. Alex’s angry attitude gets old… FAST. Her internal dialogue at one point, “My violence is everywhere here. And I like it.” Cheesy at best. Sorry, I just had no patience with this book.

I picked it up (thankfully, through a library app and not an actual purchase) because the last teen girl revenge book I read (The Black Coats) was described as “Moxie meets The Female of the Species”. I wasn’t any more impressed with this one than I was with Black Coats. I’m at the point where I’m seriously considering taking a self-imposed hiatus from YA novels. They’ve become far too formulaic and predictable for my taste.

While reading The Female of the Species I was repeatedly wondering what happened to the initial premise: teen girl takes revenge on a vicious serial killer who murdered her loved one. Instead, I found myself reading an angsty teen novel that followed far too many typical YA clichés.

The author, in my opinion, has tried too hard to relate to teens. The use of graphic language and sexual situations is overdone in my opinion. “Good Girl” Peekay wonders what her father (the Preacher) would think if he knew his daughter knew what a “penis” (the “d” word is actually used here) smells like. What? Eww. No.

Then we have the repeated animal cruelty, undoubtedly to get the point across to readers that the world is filled with evildoers. It was WAY overdone. In fact, the violence in this book is beaten over the reader’s head. Subtly would have been preferable, more compelling and much more beneficial to readers. “Me Too” would be more inclusionary and relatable to a broader range of readers if the author had been far less heavy handed, i.e. the cleaning of sexually biased graffiti… yes, I could get onboard with that.

And speaking of violence, the idea that Alex lives in a small town where “everyone knows each other”, yet is overrun with crazed killers, rapists, terrorists, whatever, is so far beyond belief it comes off as laughable.

I know there are plenty of rave reviews for this book and I get it. I think this is the kind of book where readers project their own idea of “The Jock”, “The Easy Girl”, “The Loner” and “The Rebel” onto the characters. Like most things, readers will interpret a book from where they stand, and that’s to be expected. Personally, I found The Female of the Species to be dark, graphic and, when you consider the ending, completely pointless.

In the end, I felt this book just didn’t do the intended topic justice, and I cannot personally recommend it.

2 of 5 Stars, Susan Barton