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Reviewed by Donna Parrey for Readers' Favorite
A couple of young teens in 1960s-era California find a new outlet for their reckless sense of adventure in Culver City, a novel for young adults by Brant Vickers. Cassady and Kyle are buddies who get along well and tire of the drug-laden experiences their crowd seems to favor. Instead, they find a way to sneak into MGM’s Backlot #2 and marvel at the dilapidated old sets from the previous movie and TV productions. They discover a Southern mansion, a train station, Polynesian huts, a medieval European square, a graveyard, a Chinese street, and warehouses with costumes and props. Their fascination with the place leads to a nighttime visit and an encounter with a strange bluish light and a luminous presence that seems to be a lovely girl. The duo is drawn to return often, eventually meeting and conversing with movie characters in the “Sift,” an eerie phenomenon that allows the boys’ perceptions to change and the characters to become visible.
Brant Vickers's prologue is so intriguing that it’s as if he’s daring readers to try to stop reading, but they will continue to turn page after page. Culver City weaves an intriguing storyline, successfully merging science fiction, mortality, teenage angst, spirituality, and even humor in a sophisticated blend. As cops break up a drug party, Vickers describes the teens as “…ricocheting off each other like cue balls.” When Kyle first returns to the Sift, he perceives what the author describes as an undercurrent of weirdness in the air. Yet when the duo starts to question the meaning of what they’re experiencing, Brant ensures the dialogue gets serious, as Cassady asks Kyle, “Do you think this will change us?” Readers will want to hang on to find out. While some of the trippy experiences with their other so-called ‘friends’ can feel superfluous, Vickers has done an admirable job in researching movies and characters, including Scarlett O’Hara’s description of working on Gone With the Wind and many other references to both well-known and lesser-known movies and actors.