Whether it be Juliette from Shatter Me or Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games or even Annabeth Chase from Percy Jackson, I constantly see hate on the ladies of YA fiction. I get it--people aren’t going to like every protagonist they come across. I know I dislike a whole lot of them, but the thing is, I understand why they do the things they do, even though they infuriate the hell outta me. Sometimes I want to reach inside the book and slap a little sense into them, but they always have their reasons behind their actions, even though maybe I wouldn't do the same if I was put in the same situation. What irks me, though, is that lately all I've been seeing is people trying to tear these characters down. Some even call them “Mary Sues” which, in my opinion, is a term used so often these days that I think people forget what it actually means.
A “Mary Sue” or, if it’s a guy, “Gary Sue” is a character that has little to no flaws. Majority of the time when people call a character a Mary Sue, they are wrong. They do exist in things such as fanfiction and maybe even those terrible romance books. . . What are they called again? Mills and Boon novels? If you're going to call someone a Mary Sue, please look into what it means first. Some people have smaller flaws than others. I think I’ve even seen someone call Clary from The Mortal Instruments books a Mary Sue.. I can’t even.
And then we’ve got the people who complain because of the flaws. See, I just don’t get that. Every person has flaws. Everyone. So why shouldn’t literary characters?
Take my main gurl Katniss Everdeen for example. She’s strong, brave, selfless, caring but she can also be manipulative, cold and rude. Basically, she has no people skills. To me, that is exactly what makes her likeable. Her flaws and her good traits are what make her such a great heroine for people to look up to.
I see her constantly getting hate on social media websites, though. People say she’s “the most annoying character ever” or “she’s so selfish”, but put yourself in her shoes. If you were forced into a strange place, where people were betting on the odds of you dying would you be the most cheerful, bubbly person? No. If you lived in a harsh, poor district, had to look after your younger sister and mentally ill mother, starving, would you be the least bit cold and unfriendly? Her flaws are what make her realistic.
Or take Juliette from Shatter Me for example. She was all alone, locked up for I don’t know how about years, her parents thought she was a freak, she was constantly bullied at school . . . And yet she gets all this crap because she isn’t a strong, capable heroine because like Katniss Everdeen? She doesn't kick butt like Rose from Vampire Academy? The girl was practically clinging on to her sanity before everything started to happen in the book. Of course she's not going to have mad skills in jujitsu or be able to really hold her own in a fight. But, despite everything, she still fights back and manages to stay as strong as she can through the whole process.
So, overall, what I’m saying is: It’s alright to dislike characters and it's alright if you feel like screaming at them sometimes, but before you call them a Mary Sue or simply just rant about how much you hate them, put yourself in their shoes. Characters are going to have flaws, they’re going to have annoying traits and that is what makes them human. It's what makes them realistic. It's what helps us identify with the character.