I'm a bit late, but oh man, I loathed Meryl. I have no idea how the developers thought she would be considered cute. I can't see her as anything but obnoxious, annoying, and stupid.
And poor Merrril, her rivalmance is SO cute. lol *highfive* fellow Merril fan. Well, there are lot of Merril fans. I guess it depends on if your reaction to her is to protect her or smack her. I'd say both are valid. As for her personal quest:
you can avoid having to kill her clan.
That said, Isabela was the funniest character in the game. Isabela + Varric was hilarious.
Also, yay! more interest in the game. Definitely go watch the two part demo of the game which shows off how the combat is more tactical this time around.
Edit: Her names spelt MERRILL not Meryl. :P
I couldn't stand Isabella, either.
Really, I found most of the cast of DA2 to be bordering on annoying or relatively intolerable. I think the single exception was Aveline, who I liked.
Fenris was saved only by having Gideon Emery as a voice actor.
Really? I loved the cast of DA2. I found Fenris annoying on my first playthrough because I chose to rival him, but he was much more tolerable when I friended him on my second playthough. I probably would hate Anders, but his rival path is really well written. Actually that is a good question, for all the characters did you rival them or friend them? That might have had some impact on your feelings for them. For me it was:
Fenris- Rival/Friend (preferred friend)
Sebastion- Friend/Rival (both were alright, going to import rival)