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Characters / American Subversive

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A page for tropes exemplified by characters of the novel American Subversive.

Beware of spoilers!

Aidan Cole

Aidan is a blogger living in New York City who runs a "meta-media" blog called Roorback, wherein he summarizes and criticizes current events along with its viewers and commenters. He is in a complicated relationship with Cressida Kent, a New York Times online writer who writes about relationships, including theirs, seeing no problem in airing out their dirty laundry in such a public space. He's also friends with Julian Touché, a half-Venezuelan socialite through whom Aidan gets to interact with the jaded rich people that populate the city, aside from the equally blasé lower-class crowd he himself is part of.

Aidan is content to live out his aimless life until a bomb explodes inside a New York City building, and a few days later, he receives an e-mail with a surveillance photograph of an attractive woman, and the words "This is Paige Roderick. She's the one responsible." For reasons unknown least of all to himself, he begins to track her down.

  • Accomplice by Inaction: He initially decides not to report Paige to the authorities, before actively deciding to help her.
  • Action Survivor: He manages to adjust to the fugitive life well enough despite having his life completely turned upside-down in the process.
  • Anti-Hero: He starts out indecisive and complacent.
  • Determinator: He actually succeeds in tracking Paige down on his own even after Touché stopped helping him. It even surprised Simon, who only expected him to expose Paige along with Keith.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: His old life crumbles when Cressida exposes him in an article, apparently with the help of Touché.
  • Jumped at the Call: When Paige comes to him for help, he doesn't hesitate to step up.
  • Meaningful Name: "Roorback," the name of his blog, is a word meaning a false but damaging rumor spread for political purposes. Also, Aidan's own name means "fire," which only begins to make sense when he and Paige begin to interact more in person.

Paige Roderick

Paige is a Southern girl who was raised in a military family. She was very close with her brother Bobby, who later joined the military and died serving in Iraq. The devastating loss eventually led her to Bobby's friends, who turned out to be activists. She decides to follow their cause, and is later recruited by Keith Sutter, a legend even among her fellow extremists.

Paige is initially tasked to do research for potential targets while Keith would build the bombs to be used for their Actions. The longer they work together, however, Paige begins to notice a change in Keith for the worse, and slowly starts to question her commitment to the life she chose.

  • Action Girl: Even before being recruited by Keith, she already stood out among the activists for being willing to do the harder tasks, like breaking and entering, vandalizing, and even destruction of public property.
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  • Anti-Villain: Despite her complicity in many potentially dangerous criminal acts, she truly believes that it is the only way to expose the corrupt institutions taking advantage of the American people in the shadows and to make a difference in her country.
  • Berserk Button: Because of the immense personal cost to her, she has no sympathy for anybody who makes light of the war in Iraq and its impact on Americans.
  • Broken Pedestal: She started losing faith in Keith when he tried to sleep with her. He immediately became an enemy in her eyes upon discovering the shrapnel hidden inside his new bomb, realizing that he no longer cared about sparing innocent people.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Well-versed in covering her tracks and maintaining her anonymity.
  • The Fettered: She is willing to employ bombs for her cause, but draws the line at killing people in the process.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Several mentions of her appearance describe how her beauty makes her stand out even from a surveillance photo taken in passing.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: The death of her brother and her involvement with extremists have made her cynical and bitter.
    "I don't understand what's in it for him, Keith said finally. If he's not a journalist, why not just go to the cops and wash his hands of the whole thing? Hell, he'd be a hero.
    He said the word with all the disdain it deserved."
  • Only Sane Man: With Keith's ideas slowly becoming more outrageous, and Lindsay being more sycophantic than smart, it fell to Paige to be the voice of reason in their little group.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Paige had a Southern accent before Keith taught her to hide it to make her more anonymous. When she tells her story to Aidan, he points out that her accent was changing, taking it as a sign that she was growing more comfortable around him.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Her plunge towards extremism began when her brother Bobby died in Iraq.
  • Properly Paranoid: Years of living off the grid have taught her to be vigilant. At the end of the novel, she manages to escape her safehouse right before the FBI discover it, after noticing somebody looking at her place twice in two days.
  • Unwitting Pawn: She was initially willing to go along with Keith's plan to target the media next after their New York City bombing, until she learned that Keith's new bomb was designed to kill people.

Cressida Kent

Cressida is a former British tabloid journalist who eventually became a New York Times writer, whose column is primarily about relationships. She takes this as a license to complain about her troubled relationship with Aidan, with a name-change being her only attempt to disguise her scathing criticisms of him. Meanwhile, she's content to live out her own social life independent of Aidan, somehow keeping him at arm's length and expecting much more from him at the same time.

  • Bastard Girlfriend: She lambasts Aidan publicly through her column writings. When she recognizes Paige in passing on the way to his apartment, she breaks the story that turns Aidan into a fugitive.
  • Foil: A not-so-subtle one to Paige. Whereas Paige is decisive and driven, Cressida is complacent and insufferably passive-aggressive.
  • Temporary Love Interest: On the one hand, she doesn't hide her growing contempt for Aidan; although for his part, he doesn't seem to care enough to make an effort with her.

Julian Touché

Touché is a wealthy New York socialite, the son of a Venezuelan political activist who married into the rich DuPont family. Aidan considers him a close friend and confidant, and is willing to help Aidan out in his effort to track down Paige Roderick.

Keith Sutter

Keith is an experienced activist who had attained legendary status among smaller extremist circles. When Paige starts making a name for herself among the radical groups in the South, he decides to recruit her to help him in his Actions. Within his extremist group, he's the one who interacts directly with their financial backers, from whom he also gets locations of safehouses and other information he needs to carry out the Actions.

  • Demolitions Expert: Highly experienced in using explosives.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Paige discovers his latest bomb is full of shrapnel, indicating that he intends to kill people, or at the very least doesn't care if innocents do get killed, during his next Action.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: An anonymous agitator who slowly began to turn downright misanthropic, to the extent of potential murder.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: His cynicism makes his sense of morality start to come unhinged.
  • Karma Houdini: His bomb kills Simon when it goes off, but he remains a fugitive by the end of the novel.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Very few people know the full story of his exploits.
  • The Unfettered: He doesn't care how lethal his bombs are if they're in service to his Actions.

Lindsay Hardt

Lindsay is an activist whom Keith recruited and supposedly had a history with before meeting Paige. She continues to assist with his Actions once Paige joins them.

  • The Ditz: To some extent, seeing as she seems less decisive and calculating than Keith or even Paige.
  • Satellite Character: More or less, as she is very rarely depicted acting on her own throughout the story.
  • Undying Loyalty: She is willing to follow Keith however far he goes with his Actions.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: When Keith becomes the prominent antagonist of the story, she is nowhere to be seen, though she is presumed to be following his orders.

Simon Krauss

Simon is an artist living in New England with Aidan's mother. They met when Aidan's mother moved into what she didn't know was his house at the time, and they decided to share the house, eventually developing a relationship.

  • Becoming the Mask: He embraced the artist's life after a long time as a fugitive.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: It turns out that he was the person Keith reported to, and knew about Keith's Actions despite not agreeing with them.
  • Sacrificial Lion: He is killed when Keith's bomb goes off while he attempted to defuse it.
  • Stealth Mentor: He was EmpiresFall, the one who e-mailed the messages implicating Paige to Aidan.

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