John / Suspense/Thriller / Young Adult

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

female of the speciesAlex’s world was turned upside down when her sister Anna was murdered. Since then she hasn’t socialized much at school or at home, where her mother is usually drinking and complaining that Alex is too much like her father. Her father left the family years ago, and Alex suspects this was due to a dark side he was afraid of revealing to them. He still supports Alex and her mother financially with a nice check each month.

Two things change for Alex during her senior year. First, she meets Claire, who goes by the nickname Peekay, which is short for preacher’s kid. Alex and Peekay both volunteer at an animal shelter, and Peekay starts to draw Alex out of her shell. Second, Jack, one of the popular guys at school and a star athlete, develops a crush on Alex.

This might sound like a typical Y.A. novel (or movie) where popular kid dates mysterious loner kid, but Mindy McGinnis’ The Female of the Species has a dark undercurrent. Comstock, the man suspected but never convicted of killing Anna, ends up dead as does a child molester in the town. At a party where a group of older tweaker guys start sexually assaulting Peekay, Alex comes to her defense and rips part of a nose and ear off one of them. Is Alex capable of going even further? Could she have something to do with the two deaths? This question along with excellent character development kept me turning pages. McGinnis tells the story from multiple points of view and each character’s voice seemed unique and authentic. While The Female of the Species does tackle disturbing subject matter, it’s definitely worth giving it a try.

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