Evolved by Jessica Bosanac
2018 finalist: Grades 7 to 9 category
Evolved by Jessica Bosanac is one of 10 stories shortlisted for the The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 7 to 9 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 2,400 students submitted their stories.
Bosanac, a student at Senator O'Connor College School in North York, Ont., tackles genetic modification in Evolved.
Ari was in a forest. It wasn't always a forest, or at least that's what she'd been told. Twenty years before it was a patchwork of farmland, and as she passed from a young area of the woods to an older section, she watched the trees almost double in height. It was pretty, but the crumbling logs and rocky terrain made it more difficult to find trails. Not that this trail was subtle. It was a rugged gash of split trees and flipped soil, and it didn't take a professional to figure out something large had blundered through.
There were seven other Chasers with Ari helping her track. Tracking was the easy part. Taking the beast down was another story. Witnesses said it was a boar-type beast, about as large as a rhinoceros. The slits in the trees testified to its bladed tusks, and Ari's nerves told her that it probably had laser-eyes and fire breath.
"Not the worst I've ever seen," Ari could almost hear the current Chase Leader's voice in her head. This comment, of course, would be followed up with a story about the time he fought three armed Modified Humans, we call them Mods, with nothing but a mop and his wits. The other kids at the shelter would laugh, and the Chaser would go into detail. He bragged how he bashed one over the head with the stick end of the mop while tripping the other with the mop head. He used a rolling, vibrant voice, like someone reading a book. But it was all a lie.
Away from the stories of the old Chasers, whispers of the Mods and their creations got more terrifying every year. As the Mods created beasts larger and more ferocious, stories spread about how they all gave themselves wings and gills, and deleted empathy from their consciousness to be ruthless killers. There were rumours about their silver tongued cunning, and how they could make you believe anything. All of those stories were just that. Stories.
Ari knew. She was a Mod.
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.
Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by award-winning YA writer Cherie Dimaline, author of The Marrow Thieves. The winner will be announced on CBC Books on Feb. 22, 2019.
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 YA books.