Here’s our spoiler-free review of Daughters of Anarchy Season 1 by C.A. Hartman. Get your copy by becoming a member today and then join us in the F-BOM forums. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!
The two words that come to mind when I’m asked to describe Daughters of Anarchy by C.A. Hartman are dystopian noir. Hartman drops you into a seemingly familiar reality with a heroine more annoyed by frat boys than anything else. However, the veil is quickly lifted as Stevie, our main protagonist, guides us through the streets of Dianthus and into the depths of her day job: data mining the constant stream of government surveillance of everyone, everywhere, all the time.
Stevie is aloof and goes about her job providing surveillance reports to the best of her ability. Sitting in her cubicle high above the cityscape, she has a better view of the ugly, greedy, and selfish side of humanity than those living in the throes of it. Especially since some of the worst offenders share her office. What her superiors don’t know is that she is monitoring EVERYONE, and she does not hesitate to execute her own kind of justice.
We are so excited to be featuring this book as our Spring 2018 F-BOM. Here’s how it stands up to our Scale:
Not offensive to women = 1/1 pt
Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2/2 pts
Passes the Bechdel-Wallace test = 3/3 pts
Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4/4 pts
Hartman aptly calls Daughters of Anarchy Season 1 of the series. Each chapter is an episode with its own self-contained story, and Hartman effortlessly blends everything together in a way that grips you and pulls you along to the end. Stevie is as much a mystery to the reader as she is to her fellow characters, at least at first. Of course, as readers we have the privilege of seeing behind the curtain and gradually understand her motivations, but Hartman ensures this is no easy process.
Multiple story lines weave through the book. Stevie grapples with the legacy of her mother and the expectations this legacy sets. She also leads a lonely life; her warranted paranoia prevents her from getting too close to anyone to have a relationship, yet her need for human companionship is palpable. She inserts herself into so many lives anonymously, yet does little to improve her own quality of life. My favorite part about Stevie is her passion for the common good, even if I disagree with her “by any means necessary” style. Her genetic alteration abilities are also super cool.
Above and Beyond General Media = 5/5 pts
What makes this book stand apart is the complexity of character that Hartman has given to Stevie, and the complex world she built around her. One of the most interesting parts of this dystopic future is the harsh reality of sexual politics. There is a shortage of men, yet this shortage has only increased men’s status instead of distributing more societal power toward women. To attain higher status women genetically alter themselves to vie for attention from the rich and well-connected men. While disdainful of this practice, Stevie has no qualms in exploiting male expectations for her own gains.
Stevie also has a rags to riches story, albeit a dystopic one, which further adds to her distrust and resentment of those who share elite spaces in the city with her. She rarely ventures to the side of the city she grew up on, and is keenly aware of how her past and upbringing could be used against her in the future. She also risks endangering the few old friends she has if she visits them. If anyone knows the dangers of being under constant surveillance, it’s her.