Asides from a similar drawing style, I saw nothing similar between the characters of Aya and Bienvenue. I guess this should be considered an accomplishment for the author, but unfortunately is just disappointing to the reader. Everyone wishes they had a friend like Aya but Bienvenue is not the most personable girl.
Bienvenue is a 21 year old art student at Ecole des beaux arts, in Paris. She lives with her cousin and makes money through random jobs including babysitting and waitressing at parties. Throughout the book, Bienvenue struggles with her identity. She hates her first name, fights constantly with her mother, does not feel like an accomplished artists, questions life constantly...in other words she's a typical young adult. She is smart and sassy, but her sassiness just comes across as annoying. She's independent, always doing her own thing and doesn't seem to want anyone to get too close or in her way. The book is also quite sexual compared to Abouet's previous works, with what seems like every other page discussing sex.
Wasn't a big fan of the ending. With all of Bienvenue's sassiness and complete indifference to all the sex talk, does the book really have to end with her in love with a boy? I did breathe a sigh of relief though that Abouet didn't put any of the cultural/vocab/recipes in the back pages. (What the heck would she put anyways, "How to wear a beret", "How to smoke like a true Parisian", the historical background of where "Oh la la" came from??)
I don't really see "Bienvenue" every becoming as popular as "Aya," however I do still think this is a book that many young Parisians (and others) will enjoy, and I am curious to see how the rest of the story unfolds.