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Deconstructing Dylan

by Lesley Choyce

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fantasy & magic, science fiction
list price: $12.99
also available: eBook
published: 2006
publisher: Dundurn
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
9 to 12
7 to 9
Reading age:
9 to 12
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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Deconstructing Dylan

The year is 2014. When 16-year-old Dylan discovers a strange photo of himself at a younger age, he begins to investigate the mystery that is his own life.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2007.

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  • Commended, The Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice Selection
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Commended for the 2006 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice Selection
The year is 2014. Dylan Gibson is 16 and knows there is something unusual about him, but he doesn’t know what - aside from his fascination for things like insects, opera, old Japanese sci-fi movies, playing the didgeridoo, and the Loch Ness monster. After being dumped by his girlfriend, Caroline, who thinks he’s too strange, Dylan meets Robyn, who’s something of an outcast herself.
Dylan’s father works for a big drug company, and his mom, a former geneticist, dropped out of research after a mysterious event. When Dylan discovers a mysterious photograph of himself at a younger age, he starts to suspect that there may be more to his identity crisis than he realized. With Robyn’s help, he begins to investigate the mystery that is his own life.

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Contributor notes

Lesley Choyce is one of Canada's most prolific authors. A resident of Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia, he has published more than 50 works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. His previous YA fiction includes Shoulder the Sky, winner of the Ann Connor Brimer Award, and Smoke and Mirrors, shortlisted for the CLA Young Adult Canadian Book Award.

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Editorial Reviews

I loved Deconstructing Dylan, even though it's more for an older age group, it was an awesome book nonetheless. I recommend it to ages 14+, because of the language, and some of the content younger kids may not understand. It is a very intense book; I couldn't stop reading. The storyline is genius, a true masterpiece. Deconstructing Dylan not only is a great story, but especially with teens, it has a message. No matter how things get messed up, things can get better. For example, you may think you're different, that there is something wrong with you, just like with Dylan. You can relate yourself to the characters. When he finds out what's wrong with him, it's pretty huge. I can't tell you what it is, that would just ruin the suspense. But things get better, the problem doesn't get solved, but he manages it and goes on with his life. I see I'm running out of room here, so I'll wrap it up.

I give Lesley Choyce's Deconstructing Dylan 5 out of 5 stars!

Reviewed by Jordan, Age 12, KIdsWWwrite, Sarah's Stars, June, 2006

Dylan is an interesting character, and the story is told with him as the first-person narrator. His wry take on life around him should resonate with any individual who went through High School as a bit of a geek. He is surrounded with people who are out of place in their lives, challenged to conform, and struggling to find themselves. The mystery that fuels this story rolls along, and, once revealed, raising complicated questions about the nature of identity that I can't discuss without spoiling the surprise. There are almost two novels here: Dylan's search to discovers what his parents are hiding, and what Dylan does with the truth. If you think your own struggle to establish your identity as a teenager was a struggle, just think what it will be like given all of the marvels and terrors the future is supposed to bring.

...Deconstructing Dylan is a good read for young adults, who will sympathize with Dylan's struggle and be challenged by the story's ideas. It is a nice, futuristic twist on the old coming-of-age novel.

James Bow, author of The Unwritten Girl

I enjoyed reading Deconstructing Dylan. It is the story of Dylan, who has always felt out of place but can never quite figure out why.

...One Thing I enjoyed about this book was the fact it was set a few years in the future, but not too far away. It added a few futuristic tools but it was close to our time that it was very understandable. Also, the issues that the book deals with hit close to home because we are or soon will be dealing with them, too.

I also appreciated that, even though the book sometimes talked about complicated things in science, they were explained very simply and there were no confusing explanations to get lost in.

The book starts a little slowly but I eventually realized the story needs the initial set-up for the latter parts to make sense. Once the action did start, it was very exciting and did not want to put it down until I was done.

...I would recommend this book to students in high school looking for a well-written book about an identity crisis. It is an enjoyable book that really makes you think.

Jeneva Kopp, Herald Book Club, The Lethbridge Herald, June 3rd, 2006

Novels for young adults often focus on the confusion that teens experience about their sense of identity and their place in the world. In his latest offering, prolific Maritime author Lesley Choyce combines the problem novel and science fiction genres to discuss the unusual identity crisis faced by 16-year-old Dylan Gibson living somewhere in urban Nova Scotia in 2014.

...Relationships, family dynamics, and ethics factor into this coming of age tale; however, the primary focus is on Dylan's inner struggle, his growing uneasiness with the strange and unsettling sensations he experiences, and his attempts to find meaning in his life.

Dylan is an appealing character and well realized; his first person narration permits glimpses into his deepest fears and rawest emotions. Most secondary characters, with the exception of Robyn, merely act as backdrops for Dylan's emerging persona. Using nicely paced prose, smooth dialogue, and an intriguing plot, Choyce moves the story along evenly.

An easy read, Deconstructing Dylan is not the usual coming-of-age tale but poses a unique and entertaining perspective on the teen identity crisis theme.

****/4 Highly Recommended

Darleen Golke, CM Magazine, June 9th, 2006

Author Lesley Choyce turns teen angst on its ear with this finely balanced novel.

— Chronicle Herald (Halifax, NS)

... rewarding to read ... for seeing a secret world brought to light

— Books In Canada

Choyce uses a tantalizing story line to ask some difficult questions about the consequences of scientific progress. Dylan is an unforgettable character ... This book, with its powerful imagery and important topic, is an excellent choice for school and public libraries.

— VOYA Magazine

... the central puzzle of the book, and of Dylan, is gripping.

— Georgia Straight

a quick-paced narrative, tightly written and expertly constructed to keep the reader wanting more.

— The Telegram (St. John's, NL)

I think teenagers will find this book fascinating, and adults may also enjoy it. (I read it through in one sitting.)

— Prairie Fire Magazine

Deconstructing Dylan explores a classic young adult theme of self-identity - with a fascinating twist that will grip readers' imaginations.

— Atlantic Books Today

... thoughtful and enlightening ... will spark much discussion with adolescent readers and thinkers.

— Brandon Sun
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About the Author

Lesley Choyce

Lesley Choyce, who has been teaching English and creative writing for over thirty years, is the author of more than ninety books of literary fiction, short stories, poetry, creative nonfiction and young adult novels. He has won the Dartmouth Book Award, the Atlantic Poetry Prize and the Ann Connor Brimer Award. He has also been short-listed for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor, the White Pine Award, the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award, the Aurora Award from the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and, most recently, the Governor General’s Literary Award. He lives in Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia.
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