JP On Gaming

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Book Review: LA Story's Urbania

Some of you will remember my AAR about MidSouthCon 16 (If you don't simply Check the post here). During the Saturday afternoon, I got to sit down at Pro's Row with author L.A. Story. At the end of our short time together, she signed me a copy of Urbania.

Once I returned from the con, I added it to my stash of books and left it until it came up in the rotation.

Now I am not a big fan of modern urban fantasy. I did tell Leigh Ann that, and I dare to think that she gave me the book to try and convince me.

The book itself is 76 pages long and follows Richard Shelton, as he tries to enter Urbania.

Before I start, allow me to provide you with a blurb that will, I hope, bring your mind along the lines of what this book is about.

Richard Shelton, a determined journalist, is fascinated by the story of Urbania – the Great City. It was a city that began as an ideal and became an enigma. Populated years ago with the best and most creative minds from across the globe, the city was established in the Nevada desert. The city’s leadership became more reclusive with each generation and they eventually constructed a gargantuan 50 foot wall around the city to keep out The World. The only entrance is the city’s famed gate where most petitioners are usually shot. Richard locates Ketch, the only person to have escaped Urbania and survived. Ketch advises Richard how to successfully petition and get past the gate, but there is a price. Ketch wants Richard to help Ivey, the woman Ketch had to leave behind during his long-ago escape. Richard gets through the gate, only to find the city harbors unimaginable secrets he may not live to tell.

The first scene as he tries to enter the Great City is very much like one of the good teaser from Star Trek. It stops you in your tracks and makes you go "Wow! That's pretty strong." I was taken aback a little as I did not expect the story to start this strong - and good. I really could not drop the book as I anxiously kept on reading.

And I kept on reading.

And I kept on reading.

And I kept on reading.

I did not put the book down until I was done. I lost some sleep over it. The storytelling is strong, evocative, and at the same time revealed more secrets and made me ask more questions about what was happening. I honestly did not expect that. The pace was fast, very fast, but not to the point of ever losing the reader. It was fast because events demanded they flew by.

One thing I was worried about was excessive embellished prose (what I sometimes call mental masturbation). But L.A. really does a great job of NOT falling in that trap. The images and the mystery is describe very effectively using fairly simple language. I will say that such a tour-de-force really drew me in. I found it riveting.

To avoid spoilers, the plot had my mind wonder from an alien over-plot to the Matrix to Dark City to a Science-Nazi state. Each page adding more questions while answering a number of them.

I came in with very low expectation
- This is not my favorite type of litterature
- The blurb worried me the story would meander
- I worried the plot would get nowhere, that I would be left with more questions than answers.
- I expected long, over-complicated sentences and obscure imaging
- A blurb that only covers the first two pages of the story

However, *I* was wrong on all accounts. The plot is crisp, questions are answered, but enough remain at the end that I would be willing to read more about the characters and Urbania. Enough is resolved that I am happy with it, but should more become available, I would want to read more. The prose is simple, clear and exciting. The blurb is accurate and exact, to the point where after reading the book I re-read it (for this review) and thought "Yeah... that is a great way to say this"

Try as I might to find fault with this, all I can come up with it:
- I would love to write in such compelling style
- I would love to produce such a fiction piece
- The story was too short, I wanted more
- The story has a strong ending, not needing more, but allowing more to be produced.

Hummm.. Yeah none of this is L.A.'s fault and really on my end. Which forces me to give Urbania a 5 star rating. I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this.



  1. Thank you for the wonderful review, JP! You were a great Pro Row neighbor. I am so glad you enjoyed the book!

    1. I assure you, the pleasure was all mine. I did lose sleep over it, but devoured it. Thanks for writing it!