In the book I’m reading at the moment (Shadows: A Dark Touch Novel by Amy Meredith) the two main characters, at least to start with, were such Mary Sues. They love shopping. They’re pretty. They’re popular. They’re talented. They’re fancied by most of the opposite sex. They have a lovely group of friends. Oh, and they’re the protagonist of a book. WHAT MORE DO THEY WANT?
Oh, and most readers hate them. Go figure.
And then you get the entirely opposite of a Mary Sue (aka the inventively named “Anti-Sue”). They’re disliked by other characters. They may be abused. They might kill people. They’re dangerous. They’re probably unattractive, like a creepy Disney character. They don’t really have any talents except ‘negative’ ones. And, obviously, they’re the antagonist of the book.
But… most readers adore them. Go figure. Again. I hope you’re good at maths.
Why do readers prefer the damaged, easily hate-able antagonist, and yet despise the person we’d probably all like being? Are they a reflection of our inner thoughts? Is the Mary-Sue deemed too unrealistic? Why, then, is the Anti-Sue also incredibly unrealistic, but more loved? Why am I questioning this? Is it because I’m doubting myself? (I’d love a best friend like the two female main characters in the book I’m currently reading.) Is it because I’m tired, and as this is a “book discussion” post I am completely turning it over to you? (Don’t answer the last one.) What do you think, readers?