In several reviews I've received for The Appeal of Evil, people have commented on how unlikable Katie is. In fact, some have even gone so far as to say they hate her.
My first reaction to that was that I needed to come to Katie's defense. I felt like I needed to protect her like I would protect my own children. I would explain that she acts that way because she's a 17-year-old girl or give some other excuse, like she's naive. I was upset that they would attack her like that.
Then, I stopped. I was talking to an author friend of mine about how not all main characters have to be likable. The point of stories is to put characters in challenging situations and see how they react to them. Not all of them come out fighting. Some are more passive and maybe a lot more self-centered. Some are unreliable. You can't trust anything they have to say, and they often twist the truth to their own benefit. Some are sneaky. Like the real world, characters in fiction display a wide range of personality traits--not all of which are desirable.
Katie is young, naive, self-centered, needy, and whiny. She has moments of being strong, but they are fleeting and quickly devolve into self-doubt and insecurity. Katie is who she is, and she shouldn't have to apologize for that or explain it to anyone. And neither do I. If she was any other way, it wouldn't be the same story.
I understand that readers don't like her. That's fine. They don't have to. She's not always my favorite either, and I know her really well. I don't cringe anymore when reviewers write about how much they despise her. In fact, I laugh. To me, that's an awesome compliment. I love to see that my character evokes such a strong emotional response. It means I'm doing something right.