A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Female of the Species is a dark, violent, and tragic novel about Alex Croft, a teen girl who see herself as an agent of vengeance. Set in a small town three years after Alex's sister has been savagely murdered, the story is told in alternating chapters from the viewpoints of Alex; her boyfriend, Jack; and her best friend, Peekay. There are murders, sexual assaults, drunken parties, and swearing ("motherf----r," "f--k," "a--hole," "goddamn"). This powerfully written novel is best suited for teens mature enough to see beyond the brutality of the story to the painful emotional lives of the characters. Mindy McGinnis is the author of A Madness So Discreet, winner of the 2016 Edgar Award for Young Adult Fiction.
What's the story?
THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES begins with these words from Alex Croft: "This is how I kill someone." The brutal murder of her older sister has left Alex's already dysfunctional family even more damaged, and by her senior year, Alex is a loner with an appetite for vengeance -- and not just against the man she believes killed her sister and still walks free. Unexpectedly, she finds herself with a compassionate new friend, Peekay (so named because she's a preacher's kid), and a smart, athletic, and popular boyfriend, Jack. Can they save Alex from the path she has set for herself?
Is it any good?
This powerful novel is the brutal and heartbreaking story of a teen girl so consumed by the need for vengeance that she can find no other way to react to the injustice that surrounds her. It's filled with violent acts and flawed and damaged characters who may be too intense for many readers. For mature readers who can move beyond the storyline, The Female of the Species offers an opportunity to discuss serious issues, from rape culture and sexual assault to the morality (or immorality) of revenge.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role of vengeance in The Female of the Species. Is it ever right for an individual to become a vigilante? What would you do if someone you loved was murdered and the killer was never brought to justice?
If a girl or boy in your school acted out as violently as Alex, would people look the other way, or would help be available for her?
How realistic did you find the parent's reaction to their teens' drunken partying?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love thrillers and stories about the need for consent
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.