Book of the Week: The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnis

It’s not that often that I find a kid’s book the most interesting read of the week. But McGinnis is evolving into a real writer to watch. Her last book, A Madness So Discreet, was historical suspense and won a 2016 Edgar Award. The two before that were dystopias less concerned with the details of the stories’ weather-challenged future than with how we can work to retain our compassion and humanity in the face of fear and privation.

This new book picks up that theme in a singularly startling story.  It also explores another of McGinnis’s on going themes — how young women learn to deal with the outsized emotions and the challenge of violence.

 I read this in a single sitting and realized I needed to take a few deep breaths at the end. The book has received four starred advance reviews and hit a lot of the “must read” columns for books coming out this fall.

The Female of the Species works for both adults for teens because it works the way the all the best fiction works: A strong plot marked by a sharp, original vision draws readers into a story of moral complexity. Keep an eye on this writer.

“Whether a catcall, an unwelcome touch, or more, sexual aggression towards females happens daily; McGinnis explores how one teen uses violence for justice in this gripping story that should be read and discussed by teens, as well as those who work with them.”
Booklist (starred review)

McGinnis gracefully avoids the pitfalls of creating a teenage vigilante, instead maintaining a sense of piercing realism. Alex is a pained girl in dangerous free fall, whose fierce independence is challenged by newfound friendships, even love, though neither may be enough to stave off the inevitable.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“All three teens are haunted by the memory of Anna’s murder, and Alex’s inclination to both considering and exacting revenge with cruel efficiency leads them all inexorably to an explosive, terrible finale. An unflinching look at rape culture and its repercussions.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“This is an astoundingly dark but beautifully written tragedy, brimming with sexual assault, violent murders, and accounts of animal abuse that will be difficult for most individuals, but also tempered with glimpses of genuine human emotion and extremely touching displays of kindness that cross social barriers and species. Sexual abuse and assault are treated with sensitivity here but also portrayed with the necessary weight and power, and the dangerous repercussions of poor self-esteem, limiting social expectations, and secret-keeping are discussed openly and frankly. Highly recommended for collections serving teenagers, this book will likely be especially well received by those who enjoyed any of Gillian Flynn’s novels.”
School Library Journal (starred review)

 Claire, or Peekay as everyone calls her, will remain the Preacher’s Kid for the rest of her life if she cannot break out of the stereotype. Jack Fisher is the guy that everyone wants to be, smart, athletic, and gorgeous, but wishes people would remember him for more than his sports statistics. And Alex Craft? Well, Alex Craft is vengeance in its purest form, a fearless wolf simply waiting to unleash her wrath on those who deserve it most. Mindy McGinnis really outdoes herself with The Female of the Species…..and that’s a gross understatement. This young adult novel is positively riveting and full of stunningly elegant prose and captivating characters that,set against a classic small town background, make this tale of sex, deceit, and murder truly unforgettable. Readers will love McGinnis’ new novel, both adults and teens alike.”
— Sarah Kellam, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Crestview Hills, KY

“Delicious and dark and frightening, Mindy McGinnis finds the black underbelly of teenage sexuality and exposes it in this novel that is at times too real, especially considering it follows the story of a girl who murdered her sister’s rapist and killer. There were so many moments where I thought “This – this has happened. I’ve seen this in real life” but just glossed it over, whereas in this book nothing is glossed over, and for that I am thankful. I loved Alex, I loved all the characters, I loved the writing, and I will be delighted to warn everyone about this book.”
— Kelly Morton, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

 Take a violent, vindictive valedictorian, a violated preacher’s kid and an entitled athlete, add some teenage angst and aggression and you have the latest YA novel by Mindy McGinnis, “The Female of the Species”. McGinnis creates a deeply disturbing journey through high school days with devastating consequences, especially for Alex, Claire and Jack. Well-written and wrought with relevant topics faced by females, this dark tale delivers a punch to the gut with deadly accuracy and aim while leaving a lasting impression on the reader.”
— Kristin Bates, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

“Wow. This is a very, very dark book. Every single character is deeply flawed. Some of them are about what you would expect from a rural, depressed town. But others are far more disturbed. What I love about this author though, is that inside all of that darkness, her writing is absolutely beautiful. The book is shocking, emotional, and brutally honest about some very serious issues that teenagers deal with. For the older YA crowd, it is fantastic.”
— Kate Schreffler, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington, KY

The Female of the Species (9780062320896) by Mindy McGinnis. $17.99 hardcover. 9/20/16 on sale.

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