I haven’t seen ‘The Female of the Species’ doing the rounds on Indian bookstagram much (that’s where I pick up most of my book recommendations), mainly because it is pricey! But then I read the blurb and I knew I should own a copy of it. Daym! The lockdown and the book still haven’t reached me. But there was this urge to read the book somehow. So, I went for an ebook instead.
The Female of the Species is so disturbing that I was bawling my eyes out by the end of it. Not exaggerating one tiny bit. I was numb and was not in a position to pen down this review. Yup. I was in a trance, a book hangover if you can call it that.
So, what is it that makes the book so brutal?
Read on to find out.
The Female of the Species ~ Book Review
This is how I kill someone.
And I don’t feel bad about it.
Alex Craft is not your typical teenage girl. She has murdered the one who brutally raped and killed her elder sister. And no one can predict what she’ll do next. Because life, as she knows is filled with such horrific people.
… yes, that’s about it.
Now you know why it is hard for me to review this book. But this is also a book that needs to be read. So, I’m going to try and do my part.
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.
The story takes place in a small town which means everyone knows each other. Anna Craft’s remains are found in the woods, mostly sabotaged by wild animals. The killer is cleared of all charges due to lack of evidence. As a result, Alex Craft, ‘the dead girl’s sister’ is unable to keep her demons under control, takes matters into her own hands to get justice for her sister. She gets away from it mostly because the police weren’t eager to solve the case.
The story is told in three POVs. Alex Craft is consumed with vengeance. Jack Fisher is the ‘vanilla’ boy of her class- the popular teenage boy driven by his hormones. Peekay or Claire is the preacher’s kid who works with Alex at an animal rescue center, also struggling to mend her broken heart.
The story is very character-driven. On one hand, we have Alex, who is a stone-cold vigilante who’ll go after anyone who she views a predator. And then you see her being a straight-A student in line to be the valedictorian of her class, volunteers for an animal shelter, gentle and kind with the animals she takes care of.
“You are a bag of skin. You are a pile of bones. Every cell that has ever split inside of you was a waste of energy. Where you walk you leave a vacuum. Your existence should cease.”- she says, her voice gaining volume as she speaks.
We find her kicking a boy in his b@ll$ when he makes an offensive and hurtful sex joke. She grows fond of Peekay and she becomes protective of her. When Peekay gets drunk and when Alex finds some guys trying to take advantage of her, she literally draws blood, violently attacking them.
When we read other POVs, we get to know what others think of Alex too. While Alex views herself as a demon who can’t be trusted around others, Peekay sees a wonderful friend in her and Jack is attracted to her. These two characters slowly make Alex open her eyes into a normal world(?) and she wonders how being romantically involved with Jack will bring their happily-ever-after when she herself is haunted by everything.
“Everyone thinks if you fix a male dog it will lower his aggression, but most of the biters are female. Its basic instinct to protect their womb. You see it in all animals – the female of the species is more deadly than the male.”
This is a mature book that talks about rape culture, drugs, drinking, and assault.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
It’s not just any other book that talks about rape or molestation. But it also explores morality, friendship, courage, and love. It will not allow you to sleep at night and makes you ponder over everything you know or sadly, experienced.
“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.”
Women are slut-shamed and objectified. Rape jokes are being made. Vulgar comments on our body are passed every single day. Crap! Disgusting comments are written about young girls on their school bathroom walls! Careless and carefree! We are too scared to discuss such things. It is, maybe, something we learn to tolerate along the way. But should it be so?
“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.”
While I know a ‘Pink’ or the men convicted of Nirbhaya gang-rape being executed does not bring a massive change. It is a step forward. To educate. To teach. To re-learn. Teach your boy to respect a woman like another human being. About consent. About boundaries. Teach your girls to say no instead of forcing her to be polite. To understand that any form of making you feel your body isn’t safe is not okay.
And as adults, let us learn to ASK. LISTEN. RESPECT. HELP.
“I live in a world where not being molested as a child is considered luck.”
Will I Recommend The Female of the Species?
A riveting contemporary YA novel that examines rape culture. It’s not for the faint heart. It’s dark and twisted. It triggers you and will leave a hole in your heart, an emptiness you know you’ll never be able to stop hurting from.
5 Paws on 5!
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My theme for the A to Z Challenge this year is ‘Celebrating the Bibliophile in me’, where I will be sharing the books, authors and fictional characters that I love, loathe and tolerate.
Ah, there could be more!
You can follow me on my Bookstagram at Muffytales.
|Find other 5-Star Reads here.
- A as in Anita Nair Books
- B as in Books by Contemporary Black Authors
- C as in Classics for Beginners
- D as in Daisy Jones & The Six
- E as in Ellen DeGeneres’ Seriously… I’m Kidding