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Literature / The Tenets of Futilism

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"I want to tell you a happy story. I want to tell you about a girl whose biggest concern is the quality of her sex life. I want to tell you that all the makeup I'm wearing, my new black dress, the paint on my fingernails, they're all for fun. For a guy I like who likes me, too. I want to tell you the balloons, the streamers, they're all for a birthday party. Too bad those would be lies."

The Tenets of Futilism is a 2014 literary novel. A day after the Mayan apocalypse scare, Sasha Collins lands a job as a senator's secretary. It's cut short when she and a night cleaner named Joe find the senator's body hanging above his desk. Curious as to why he killed himself, Sasha decides to take the senator's journal. It leads her to uncovering a government conspiracy bent on dumbing down the American citizenry. Fearing retaliation for knowing too much, Sasha and Joe flee to the latter's cultist family for safety. That arrangement inevitably goes awry.


This novel includes examples of:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Sasha and Joe's minions all adore them to the point of obeying their more 'questionable' orders virtually without question.
  • Abandoned Hospital: After taking Sasha, Annabel and Gregory choose one as the venue for their 'game'. There're vines creeping up the walls, an overgrown courtyard, gang signs, and abandoned equipment, including the operating table Sasha is strapped down to. When Joe arrives, he is told has an hour to find Sasha, their followers will be attempting to stop him, and he will be watched through cameras mounted on RC cars. Sasha is also tortured with scalpels, her screams echoing across the building through speakers.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Annabel and Gregory. At first, it doesn't appear too horrifying. Their cult teachings instill the idea that ambition usually leads to disappointment, so it's best not to dream of everything better. They emphasize contentment over the pursuit of a greater happiness. This translates into their children to spend their days working fields for no reason other than to get them used to hard work and stop them from getting too optimistic. Later, however, Annabel and Gregory go as far as forcing Austin and Caroline to watch them torture Sasha as a sort of lesson. Despite everything, they still seem to legitimately love their children to a certain extent.
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    • It's a pretty safe bet that Sasha's mother was one, too, given the contents of the letter she wrote to her daughter. She's not shy about admitting she hates Sasha.
    • Later in the novel, Sasha and Joe could be considered Abusive Guardians to Austin and Caroline, though their abuse takes a different form than the examples listed above. Rather than being discouraging or unkind towards the children, Sasha and Joe grow to be largely apathetic and absent from their lives. They prefer to simply assume Austin and Caroline are content being alone and watching them commit atrocities.
  • Achey Scars: Sasha never quite recovers from having her arms and stomach cut up by Joe's parents. Even after the wounds close and scar, she still occasionally feels them sting.
  • Acoustic License: Sasha and Joe seem perfectly able to have conversations in crowded areas without speaking loudly or whispering into each other's ears.
  • After-Action Healing Drama: The scene where Joe saves Sasha from bleeding out through the use of a cigarette lighter after he stops his parents from killing her.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Despite everything they did, the deaths of Gregory and Annabel are taken somewhat somberly. Their younger children appear to miss them several times throughout the novel, though they do like how much freer they are without them.
  • All Are Equal in Death: The Waxer belief system states that there is no such thing as sin, for Crescis and/or Decrescis are ultimately responsible for everything that happens. This means that everyone goes to the same happy afterlife upon their death. Such assurance that all are pure and will see their entire families upon their deaths contributes significantly to the popularity of the Waxer cult. However, Sasha and Joe aren't always consistent in preaching this point (which is pretty typical for them – they often have trouble keeping their beliefs straight).
  • Art Shift: The novel will occasionally shift between Sasha's or Joe's first person perspective, entries from the Senator's journal, and third person newspaper articles.
  • Attack Drone: The book ends with the protagonists being killed by one.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Sasha's eventual title of "Harbinger".
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Sasha's words to Joe after he saves her from being tortured by his parents.
    "You came for me," I said, the words coming out stunted and weak, but true. "I can't tell you how thankful I am. You came for me even though I'm just a boring, lonely girl you met under a corpse."
    "You're more than that."
    "Do you-"
    The pain flared up for a moment. I let it a little scream. Then it resided.
    "Do you know what the best part of living is?" I asked. "More time with you."
    And Joe smiled back.
  • Because I Said So: Sasha's attitude late in the novel. She starts believing that anything she does is justified on account of her being Crescis' "Harbinger". Her followers tend to agree. Joe doesn't always seem convinced, but he loves her too much to speak out against Sasha or try to pull her out of her delusions.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The names of Crescis and Decrescis were ripped from the Latin text "Carmina Burana". In the context of the poem, they mean "increasing" and "decreasing"'.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Feeling it to be the safest place in the Bay area, Sasha, Joe, and the children retreat to Alcatraz. Not only have they told the world about Operation Bone-White, they have further incited the American people against their government. They've pissed off powerful men. Despite their best efforts, Sasha and her family are ultimately unable to escape he government's vengeance. It comes in the form of a predator drone. The final chapter consists of Sasha and Joe sitting together outside the prison, reminiscing and staring at San Francisco while waiting for the drone to reach them. Austin and Caroline are tied up next to them. Sasha and Joe ignore their pleading to be let go, knowing a quick death outside would be better than taking shelter inside the prison and dying under the rubble the drone would reduce it to. On the bright(ish) side, Sasha dies feeling she had accomplished her wish of outdoing her father, made a positive impact on the world, and sincerely believing she will be reunited with Joe in her next life.
  • Blind Obedience: Though they may sometimes be a little hesitant, Futilists/Waxers will inevitably follow Annabel's and Gregory's/Sasha and Joe's orders.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: While it might not involve them being literally splattered with blood, Austin and Caroline don't get off easy. Firstly, they are forced to watch their parents horrifically torture Sasha in a run-down asylum. Secondly, they see Sasha shoot their mother. Their father kills himself shortly afterwards by slashing his own throat, thinking life without his wife would be pointless. Thirdly, they look on as Sasha orders her bodyguards to kill Vanessa. Such experiences don't exactly make for happy children.
  • Bookends: Both the (majority of the) first chapter and (all of the) final chapter take place on December 21st. Christmas is mentioned in both. The book's beginning and ending paragraphs are both a character saying they want to tell the reader a happy story.
  • Breather Episode: Most of the chapters following Joe rescuing Sasha from his parents and before they reach San Francisco.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The letter from Sasha's mother is a minor one. She receives it shortly before the novel opens. Though Sasha considers opening it several times, she never reads it, preferring simply to imagine what it says. Joe does, though. The contents are just as hateful as Sasha could've imagined . After reading the letter, Joe asks Sasha if she wants to know what it says. She declines, but allows Joe to let her in on one detail. He tells Sasha it mentions dying alone. This strengthens Sasha's already strong paranoia concerning the subject, the results of which are listed below under Dying Alone.
  • The Chosen One: After discovering Joe was the cousin of the woman her father really loved, Sasha begins to believe she is Crescis' chosen "Harbinger". As the novel progresses and more crazy coincidences occur, she becomes more entrenched in this belief, going so far as to think she is destined to tell the world about the good news of Crescis' triumph over his brother. By proxy, this also gives her a moral license to do whatever she wants. Joe and Frank become just as convinced as she does.
    "She's Crescis' Harbinger. We all know it now, because we've seen it in action. Everything she touches becomes better. When she walks on dying grass, it soon becomes healthy. When she tosses pennies into fountains, not even the most frugal person could call it wasteful. She radiates the Great Waxing's free blessings."
  • City Noir: Sasha views Boston as depressing and lacking colors. San Francisco, however, is heaven on earth to her.
  • Color Motif: The color white is mentioned heavily throughout the novel, but it carries oddly negative connotations. The Futilists believe it to represent all of the colors in the rainbow rendered boring and dull together, which goes well with their method of wearing people down with monotony until they can feel neither happiness nor pain. This view of the color rubs off on Sasha.
  • Corrupt Politician: There must be a great, great many of them given the scale of Operation Bone-White. Senator Ralph White was among them, though Sasha eventually comes to think he was a good guy despite all the evidence and frames him as some sort of martyr.
  • Converting for Love: There are hints that Joe doesn't really believe in Crescis like Sasha does, and only pretends out of love.
  • Cult: This novel features two.
    • First, there are the Futilists. They're led by Joe's parents and can be best summed up as "diet nihilists". They believe that trying to improve one's situation is, well, futile and leads to nothing but disappointment for all but the lucky few. The cult doesn't try to convince recruits of its ability to make them happy. Rather, it aims at making its followers merely content through hard work, obedience, and quiet acceptance of whatever their fates may be. To them, living in passive contentment is better than "rising and diving, the floor becoming lower every time". Though it's not explicitly required, most Futilists tend to believe in Crescis and Decrescis, the gods of fortune and misfortune. Since said gods decide everyone's fates, Futilists that no one is truly responsible for their actions, a quite attractive concept to the guilty. Other religions like Christianity claim to give the means to pay back one's sins. Futilism says they were never sins in the first place.
    • Second, there are the Waxers, a cult founded by Sasha and Joe around halfway through the novel. It's essentially a "nicer" offshoot of Futilism. They believe Crescis defeated Decrescis on December 21st 2012 when he prevented the Mayan's apocalypse from occurring. With the god of fortune reigning alone, everything that has happened since that date has been for the better. Well, according to Sasha and Joe. They aim to convince drug addicts, rape victims, and widows alike that their troubles occurred for some sort of good, yet presently unrealized end. Their followers absorb themselves into such teachings in order to suspend their own disbelief, ultimately becoming very loyal. By the end, however, Sasha and Joe primarily use them as a tool to act against the government.
  • The Cynic: Futilists in general. Sasha also has shades of this at the beginning of the novel, until her Face–Heel Turn, after which she becomes the biggest idealist in the novel by far.
  • Daddy's Girl: While she was hated by her mother, Sasha loved (and was loved by) her father very much. However, he always made it clear to her that he was not an ideal man.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Many of the characters have one, most of which are laid out elsewhere on this page.
  • Death from Above: In the final chapter, Sasha, Joe, and the children are killed by predator drones.
  • Determinator: Joe stops at nothing to keep Sasha and his younger siblings safe. When his parents took Sasha and challenged Joe to try to rescue her, he unflinchingly makes his way through the abandoned hospital and kills the several Futilists who try to stop him. Joe even manages to walk off being hit by several tazers. Due to his sheer determination, Joe is able to prove his parents wrong and save Sasha.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Sasha's father never got to be with the woman he really loved. Instead, he married Sasha's mother as a sort of replacement. Their marriage was not a happy one. Seeing her parents' less-than-savory relationship is what drove Sasha to be so cautious about romance and so determined to outdo her father. When Sasha finally does fall in love, she becomes terrified of breaking apart.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Annabel and Gregory get rather angry upon learning Sasha was only pretending to be a Futilist, always intended to eventually abandon them with Joe, and attempted to turn their other children against them. Anger would be understandable. What's not is kidnapping Sasha, setting up an elaborate "game" involving torturing Sasha in a derelict building, and forcing Joe to try to save her life with the intention of him failing. Luckily, their plan didn't quite work out, though Sasha still ends up having enormous scars where she was cut.
    • Frank's former girlfriend, Eva, did something similar before the novel opens. Annabel and Gregory orders Frank to strangle her to death in retaliation. He obeys.
  • Driven to Suicide: Senator Ralph White thought the world was going to end on 12-21-12, so he spent his savings on purchasing an absurd amount of gourmet foods so he could go out eating like a king. But the world didn't end. The Senator soon realizes he'll be shamed when the word gets out that he wasted all his money on something so petty, so he hangs himself to avoid dealing with the fallout. His suicide is the catalyst for the novel's plot.
  • Dying Alone: Sasha becomes so terrified of this fate she ties up Austin and Caroline beside Joe and herself in order for them to die together when the predator missile hits. The reason behind this is her determination to outdo her father, who died without the woman he loved.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Sasha and Joe both have one.
    • Sasha's mother, Amy, only married her father, Chris, because he was a veteran. Amy wanted the status of marrying a man with honors, not the man himself. Deep down, Chris was depressed and regretful, not proud and upstanding as his wife had hoped. To make matters worse, Chris only ever saw Amy as a replacement for the woman he really loved. Amy eventually comes to return Chris's dislike several times over, and she extends it to Sasha. It's even heavily implied that Amy killed Chris by stabbing him in the neck with needles. She ends up in a psychiatric ward at any rate. Right before the novel opens, Sasha receives a letter from the woman. She never decides to open it, preferring to simply imagine it says nice things.
    • Joe's parents, Gregory and Annabel, are the leader of the Futilist cult. They force their children to spend their free time doing meaningless work and teach them not to dream or aspire to anything greater than the road directly ahead. They also offer "lessons" to correct divergent behavior. For Joe this meant kidnapping his wife, driving her to a remote, abandoned hospital, and giving their son a limited amount of time to defeat their followers and find her, all while his wife's tortured screams blared through the speakers. Even as children, Austin and Caroline are depressed and hopeless. Their oldest brother, Frank, is an example of what can become of a child indoctrinated in Futilism. Quiet, stuck in his ways, almost without a will of his own. It's no wonder Joe trying escaping to Boston.
  • Disappointed in You: Gregory and Annabel's reaction to Joe's "betrayal" is more disappointment than anger. Rather than harming him directly, they aim to "teach him a lesson" in order to mold him into the son they want.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Crescis and Decrescis are said to be fate gods who inhabit another dimension and are wholly incomprehensible by humans. They're rarely described through anthropomorphic terms. It's up for debate whether or not they actually exist.
  • Emotionless Girl: Annabel is an older example. The only time she's ever shown exhibiting any emotions is when Sasha looks through her wedding photos.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Sasha. She started acting out around the time her father. Once, she was sent to juvie for stabbing another girl. The expertience "straightened her out" to the point of making her anxious, unsocial, and prone to hysteria. It also gave Sasha a deep-rooted fear of the authorities.
  • Good Is Not Soft: While he's usually polite and mild-mannered, Dante is not above trying to kill Sasha and Joe once their cult gets out of hand. He's shown to be a capable fighter even as an old man, able to fight his way through a number of body guards and win a fist fight with only one good hand. Frank and Joe only barely manage to beat him together.
  • Government Conspiracy: The novel's plot revolves around one. After finding Senator Ralph White hanging above his desk, Sasha takes his journal out of curiosity. Reading one of its entries eventually leads her to discovering the American government plans on putting excessive fluoride into the water supply, rendering the citizenry stupid, obedient, and impressionable. Turns out, all those people who were suspicious about fluoridation were on the right track. The substance does have an effect on the mind, but only in very high dosages.
  • Happily Married: Annabel and Gregory fall under this trope despite their cold demeanor. Sasha and Joe are also on the borders of qualifying, though the amount of time they get to spend together is ultimately short.
  • Heal It with Fire: Joe uses Sasha's lighter to cauterize the massive wounds his parents caused her, saving Sasha from bleeding to death.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Frank undergoes one. After Joe rescues Sasha, he becomes convinced that Futilism is wrong and that Sasha truly is blessed be Crescis. Frank has few qualms when Sasha kills his mother and his father slits his own throat. Later, he offers to give them his parents' sizeable fortune in exchange for letting him tag along. Sasha accepts this offer. Eventually, Frank becomes one of the greatest zealots of the Waxer faith, having switched from one extreme to the other.
  • Hope Bringer: Sasha and Joe fulfill this role for their followers. It wins them quite a lot of loyalty.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Sasha and Joe have one with Vanessa. Vanessa, in turn, has one with Dante.
  • Lack of Empathy: Sasha quite possibly suffers from having this. It's known that she wasn't in any major romantic relationships prior to Joe. All the time she spent alone and her stay at juvie didn't do her much good. Once, Sasha states that the inability to truly care for others is a symptom of too much time spent alone. Her love for Joe, while intense, often comes across as rather selfish. Sasha rarely seems to care about people for their own sake. By the end of the novel, she certainly feels little empathy towards all the followers she uses like cannon fodder. The big piece of evidence against Sasha being incapable of true human tenderness is her scene with Caroline in which she tries to encourage the girl to aspire towards greater things despite the risk. However, Sasha also eventually becomes largely apathetic towards the children.
  • Land Marking The Hidden Base: At the end of the novel, Sasha and her family take refuge in Alcatraz Island, feeling it to be the safest place in the Bay area.
  • La Résistance: The role Sasha intends her Waxers to ultimately serve.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Futilists all wear white, but they're not exactly the good guys.
  • Marriage Before Romance: Sasha and Joe get married only to appease the Futilists they seek shelter with. Their initial plan is to get divorced after leaving. However, Sasha and Joe eventually decide there would be no point in doing so if they're going to stick together anyways. Hints of romantic feelings between them are shown prior to their marriage, but they're minor. The deuteragonists only latch onto each other after Sasha discovers Joe is related to the woman her father loved. They start getting especially close after Joe saves Sasha from his parents.
  • Master of Unlocking: Sasha is able to pick locks and hotwire vehicles, skills she apparently picked up in her younger, wilder years.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The jury's out on whether or not all the crazy coincidences featured in the book were, well, crazy coincidences or the product of divine intervention.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Despite the Senator's death appearing to be an obvious suicide, his widow is eventually charged with his murder. The police produce evidence that she forced the Senator to hang himself at gunpoint. Sasha and Joe believe this to be a lie perpetrated by a government that doesn't want people to believe its senators are liable to kill themselves.
  • Not So Different: One of the novel's major themes is how generations mirror each other. By the end, Sasha and Joe share quite a few similarities with Gregory and Annabel. Both couples lead cults, order their followers to preform dangerous tasks, and abuse Austin and Caroline in some sort of way. In both cases, a woman lures a man to adopt a belief system out of love. Sasha her ends up with a man related to the woman her father truly loved.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Though Sasha isn't able to quite walk off having her arms and stomach cut up, she recovers rather quickly, all things considered.
  • The Omniscient: Both Crescis and Decrescis.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Throughout the first part of the novel, Joe keeps a gun concealed in his pants pocket. He surprises his family when they try to take Sasha. Unfortunately, Frank manages to wrench it away from him.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Sasha's reaction when Joe threatens to leave her if she doesn't agree to live with him and the children at Alcatraz. It shakes Sasha to the point where she eventually agrees.
  • Posthumous Character: Sasha's father, Chris, is dead before the opening of the novel. His character is described posthumously by his daughter's words and thoughts. Eva, Frank's former girlfriend, is also mentioned on a few occasions, but not enough to get a good feel on her personality.
  • Praetorian Guard: Sasha and Joe eventually acquire a small group of loyal guards who stand watch over their apartment.
  • The Promised Land: Sasha is a little obsessed with the idea of living in San Francisco. This obsession dates back to when Sasha's father gave her a snow globe of the Golden Gate Bridge upon his return from a trip. She eventually convinces Joe to take her there. To the point of delusion, she finds it to be just as amazing as she dreamed.
  • Promoted to Parent: Sasha and Joe begin taking care of Austin and Caroline upon their parents' deaths.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Various world leaders take jabs at the United States' government after Operation Bone-White is leaked.
  • Reincarnation: Sasha and her followers (sometimes) believe Crescis will keep their souls safe after they die. When their loved ones are all dead, he will lead together to their next lives.
  • Retired Badass: Dante is a polite, retired man who appears unassuming at first glance, but he's also a decorated veteran who once fought beside Sasha's father. He's stayed physically fit, too.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Sasha and Joe both realize and accept that many innocent lives will have to be spent in order to overthrow the government.
  • Rule of Symbolism: In place of wedding bands, Futilists wear necklaces composed of white-gold yarn and incomplete, metal circles. Doing so would be absurd if not for the symbolism behind them. Futilists see the hardness of the metal as representing the couple's initially strong bond. On the other hand, the circles' incompleteness represents the inevitability of said bond breaking. One of the Futilist wedding rituals has the betrothed place their fingers into the openings of each other's necklaces as an acknowledgement of that "fact". Ever the optimist, Sasha prefers to see it as the couple "completing" the circle rather than acknowledging its brokenness.
  • Scenery Porn: The way Colorado and San Francisco are described.
    Colorado. The land of popped ears and chilly air and breath like white smoke. We were sitting at a red table outside a McDonald's, eating cheap burgers and nuggets. It was cold out. Jackets were necessary. But the view, that which the locals dining inside forsook, was completely worth it. All around us were mountains capped with snow and gray stone. Elk stared at us from the edges of their aspen groves, and endless flocks of birds flew overhead. The wind whistled. There were fields of frost-tipped grass. Little pink flowers that looked almost like dots. In the distance, I could see a lake halfway covered in ice.
    We're here to see the sights.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Sasha eventually learns that Joe is the cousin of the woman her father really wanted. Out of a desire to cover up her dad's various failures with her own successes, Sasha becomes determined to have a successful relationship with Joe, live somewhere nicely, and have a happy family. It gets to the point where she almost seems to think succeeding will put her father's spirit to rest or something in that nature.
  • Sexless Marriage: A distinct possibility between Sasha and Joe, at least to begin with.
  • Small Town Boredom: One of the many, many reasons Joe left his cultist family for Boston. Of course, Boston didn't end up being great, either.
  • So Beautiful It's a Curse: While Sasha doesn't directly claim this, early in the novel she's under the impression that men are only interested in sleeping with her. She quite resents that fact.
  • Speak in Unison: Both the Futilists and Waxers have a tendency to do this.
  • The Stoic: Frank and his mother, Annabel.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The book alternates between Sasha's and Joe's perspectives on a chapter-by-chapter basis. The final chapter switches between them every paragraph, before finally culminating with their points of view becoming one. In addition, various news articles and entries from the Senator's journal are shown.
  • There Are No Coincidences: According to Futilists, Waxers, and the deuteragonists, everything is the work of Crescis or Decrescis.
  • There Is a God!: Sasha's eventual reaction to the uncanny coincidences occurring within the novel.
  • There Is Only One Bed: After arriving at the home of Annabel and Gregory, Sasha and Joe are assigned the latter's old room. It only has one twin bed. At first, they take turns using it, but start sleeping together after they develop feelings for each other.
  • Title Drop: "The Tenets of Futilism" is the holy book of the cult going by the same name. It was authored by Annabel and Gregory.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Joe, after heroically saving Sasha from his parents and their followers.
  • Troubled Child: Austin and Caroline. Both of them have been led to depression by their parents teaching, and it's hinted that the former is still a little angry about Joe leaving them. They get worse after seeing Sasha shoot their mother and their father kill himself. They're cheered up a bit by Sasha and Joe taking them on a tour around the country, but hit a new low after their new guardians' cult turns violent.
  • Undercover as Lovers: When Sasha and Joe take shelter in the latter's parents' house, they pretend to be engaged. This is because Futilists believe friendship with members of the opposite sex is dishonest and casual dating is pointless. Neither of them are a big fan of this arrangement at first, but their relationship does eventually become quite legitimate.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: When it comes to overturning the current, corrupt political system. Well, according to Sasha and Joe.
  • Walking the Earth: The middle section of the novel features the protagonists traveling throughout America, discovering something important and/or meeting someone new at almost every stop.
  • Waving Signs Around: There were many responses to the world learning about Operation Bone-White. Crowds of sign-waving protestors were among the first. Sasha and Joe convince their Waxers to join in, but soon encourage them to lash it in more violent ways.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Sasha and, to a lesser extent, Joe become this by the end of the novel. They seem to legitimately want to fix the United States' government and stop anything like Operation: Bone-White from ever being attempted again. To accomplish this, they're willing to cause violence. The problem is how apathetic they get towards bloodshed. Eventually, they have no qualms with sacrificing dozens of lives just to send a little message. At one point, they have their followers kill two men for the crime of driving black cars, which made them suspect said men were government agents. They also order their bodyguards to kill Vanessa after she threatened to blackmail them.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Sasha eventually becomes one to the point of outright delusion. By the end of the novel, she's positive that Crescis overcame his brother on 12-21-2012, and that everything occurring since has happened for the better. Believing this is all that keeps her anywhere close to sane. When Sasha encounters evidence to the contrary (such as murders or suicides), she thinks up ways it could possibly lead to someone's benefit. For example, when one of her followers tells her she was raped, Sasha replies that it led to her attacker being consumed by guilt and pledging never to hurt anyone again. All of Sasha's Waxer followers also fall under this trope, seeing as they believe her.
  • Witch Hunt: Sasha starts essentially starts one aimed at United States senators.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The predator drones in the final chapter have no problem firing on Austin and Caroline if it means also hitting Sasha and Joe. The former believes the world will learn of their willingness to murder children, and that knowledge will lead to even greater action against the government.
  • Yin-Yang Clash: According to Futilist theology, Crescis, the god of fortune, is opposed to Decrescis, his twin god of misfortune. The symbol used to represent Futilism is even a yin-yang symbol, only jagged and uneven at places.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: It's brought up several times that Waxers eventually come to be thought of as domestic terrorists by the government and general public, seeing as they killed the Governor of California and all. Sasha and Joe are convinced their violent actions are a necessary step to fix The United States' greater problems.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: To Gregory and Annabel's surprise, Joe manages to reach Sasha within an hour. They had previously made a deal saying they would let her go if he managed to do so. Despite Gregory, refuses to release her. This doesn't make Annabel or Frank happy. They convince Gregory to stick to the terms of their deal, seeing as they value honesty..


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