Book Review: The Female of the Species, Mindy McGinnis (2016)

Monday, September 19th, 2016

There aren’t enough stars in the universe.

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for violence, including rape and pedophilia. This review contains clearly marked spoilers.)

The shelter is running a neuter-and-spay clinic next month. One of my jobs this morning is to get the mail, fighting the urge to throw a rock at a speeding car when the driver wolf-whistles at me. The mailbox is full of applications for the clinic, most of them for dogs but a handful of cats as well. Rhonda, the lady who runs the shelter, has me sort them out, dogs and cats, male and female.

Rhonda snorts when she sees all the male dogs on the roster. “People don’t learn,” she says.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“Everyone thinks if you fix a male dog it will lower his aggression, but most of the biters are female. It’s basic instinct to protect their own womb. You see it in all animals—the female of the species is more deadly than the male.”

The books didn’t help me find a word for myself; my father refused to accept the weight of it. And so I made my own. I am vengeance.

Like her father before her, who abandoned the family when she was a kid, Alex Craft has violent tendencies. Unlike Daddy Dearest, however, what piques Alex’s rage is injustice: bullying, animal abuse, rape jokes, and violence (particularly that of a sexual nature). If her father had stayed, it’s entirely possible that they would have come to blows, since he sometimes seemed one frayed nerve away from wife beating territory. But Alex saw him as a kindred spirit, and in his absence, she has no one to relate to or confide in. No one to teach her how to channel her rage in a productive way.

Alex’s older sister Anna helped to keep her wolf caged. When Anna was murdered, Alex unlocked the door.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Normal: A Novel, Graeme Cameron (2015)

Friday, April 17th, 2015

I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for suicide and violence, including attempted rape.)

The truth is I hurt people. It’s what I do. It’s all I do. It’s all I’ve ever done. I’m not…normal.

It’s a rare and fortunate man who can pinpoint precisely the moment his life began to unravel.

Mr. Normal (is it okay if I call you that, unnamed narrator?) is in the midst of an existential crisis. After a lifetime of killing people – mostly women, but occasionally men as needed, starting with his own father – Mr. Normal is in love.

Her name is Rachel, and she works as a cashier at the 24-7 grocery he often frequents. She escaped death twice: once in a car wreck that claimed the life of her younger sister, and again when she slit her wrists a few months later. She’s got dirty blonde hair and an infectious laugh and, bizarrely, she feels the same about him.

But life’s not a fairy tale, and as much as Rachel makes Mr. Normal want to renounce his serial killing ways, there’s just one problem: Erica Shaw, the twenty-year-old woman currently imprisoned in his basement dungeon.

Wait, make that two: the local police may or may not be onto him.

(More below the fold…)