I picked up Mindy McGinnis’ The Female of The Species because of its blurb on Amazon:
Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a relentless and riveting contemporary YA novel that examines rape culture through alternating perspectives. A stunning, unforgettable page-turner.
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.
Sounds amazing, right? I didn’t particularly like the book though, and I can’t tell if it’s because I’m an overly harsh book snob or because McGinnis left some potential unfulfilled. What little character development exists is pulled straight from a stock of high school cliches. It’s basically a Very Special Episode of Glee. Or High School Musical fan fiction that takes a hard left turn into Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Everything is just a little too trite, a little too pat, a little too unexpected in exactly the way you expect. I’m confused about whether or not this makes it a bad book because maybe McGinnis did this on purpose to be relatable and accessible to her intended readers at middle and high school age. The message about rape culture is of primary importance, so if dumbing down and sweetening up the packaging will make it go across any easier, well, fine. On the other hand, maybe McGinnis just doesn’t know how to write three dimensional characters.