The main character of my novel (third person limited) is an outlaw, on the run from government agents and living from day to day trying to survive.
In the first quarter of the story, she doesn't really have any sort of "end goal" that she is working towards outside of trying to remain free. She is just sort of carrying on surviving on her own, angry at the world and devoid of any solutions to her situation.
She eventually gets captured by the government, and has to work for them to obtain her freedom, but up until this point she has no long-term ambitions or desires outside of evading the law.
I feel like the beginning of the book is quite balanced between world-building, character development and actual interesting events happening, but the main character isn't working towards any specific objective, nor does she have any real idea of one.
My concern is that it will be difficult for readers to invest in a story about a character that doesn't really know what they want or where they are going. Obviously this changes later on, but my issue is that the reader may have put the book down before this change happens if they don't know what the book is about or working towards.
My understanding is that most novels (specifically in the sci-fi/ fantasy genre that I'm writing in) introduce very early in the story at least some sort of notion of an antagonist, a plot or an overall theme of "something is wrong and needs to change" that the protagonist will confront in the climax of their journey. This usually lets the reader know what to expect of the forthcoming story.
The point of my story and main character, however, is that they are completely separated from these things, living outside of society and minimizing contact with others, cutting herself off from the wider world.
So how can you convince readers to be invested in a story that initially has no recognizable trajectory? Or alternatively, how do you manufacture an end-solution for a character that doesn't really have any sort of direction?