Books·The First Page

Blue Age by Lily Liu

Lily Liu, 17, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2019 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Lily Liu, 17, is a 2019 finalist in the Grades 10 to 12 category for The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Lily Liu)

Blue Age by Lily Liu is one of 10 stories shortlisted for the The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 10 to 12 category. Students across Canada wrote the first page of a novel set 150 years in the future, imagining how a current-day trend or issue has played out. Nearly 2,000 students submitted their stories.

Liu, a student at Don Mills Collegiate Institute in Toronto, grapples with the climate crisis. 

It was, without a doubt, the strangest hunt-down June had ever done. By the time she'd tapped away the blinking blue dot at the corner of her visor, feet skidding to a stop in front of her destination, the girl was already looking at her. She didn't look like June's usual targets, either — no fancy rebel tech or a black market cyber-blaster to match June's own. Just a flat tool, a plastic bag, and a blank, neutral expression.

June faltered for a heartbeat before raising her weapon. "Don't move," she ordered, fingertip light against the trigger. "I'm apprehending you."

"I can see that," the girl said dryly. She put her tool down.

"You've been classified as a rebel against the establishment, and, in accordance with the bounty hunter act, I'm legally entitled to arrest you and subject you to justice."

It was the line she'd spoken a thousand times before, to a wide range of reactions — fear, anger, resignation — but she didn't get any of those this time. This girl just blinked, dark eyes moving from June's blaster to the handcuffs pinned at her waist.

She didn't look like June's usual targets, either — no fancy rebel tech or a black market cyber-blaster to match June's own.

"Okay," she said. "For what?"

That made June pause. She looked at the girl, really looked at her this time, and took in the scene. It was the kind of thing June had only seen in old films: soft, earthy matter, gathered carefully around thin branches. A single green leaf.

"You're… cultivating a dendrology sample."

"I'm planting a tree."

"It's still illegal," June said. "That's why you showed up on the bounty map."

The girl gave a wry smile and stood up, dusting off her hands. "Trust me, I know."

She offered her wrist to June. There was grime under her fingernails, and a smudge of green ran across her thumb. When June looked down, the glow from her visor fell over the girl's pale skin, overlapping the colour with a pool of cool blue.

"Well?" the girl said. "Aren't you going to take me, Miss Bounty Hunter?"

June hesitated, but only for a second. Then she reached out and snapped the smooth metal links of the handcuffs in place.

About The First Page student writing challenge

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2168. They wrote the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical today and set the scene for how it's all playing out in a century and a half.

Kelley Armstrong is the bestselling author of more than 40 books. (Kathryn Hollinrake)

Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by bestselling YA author Kelley Armstrong, most known for her Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series. The winner will be announced on CBC Books on March 11, 2020.

Both winners will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which sends fresh boxes of books to young readers across Canada on a monthly basis. In addition, each of the winners' schools will receive 50 free YA books.


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