Books·The First Page

Life Hack by Kyra Leroux

Kyra Leroux, 16, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2018 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Kyra Leroux, 16, is a 2018 finalist in the Grades 10 to 12 category for The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Kyra Leroux)

Life Hack by Kyra Leroux is one of 10 stories shortlisted for 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 2,400 students submitted their stories.

Leroux, a student at Dr. Charles Best Secondary School in Coquitlam, B.C., tackles how technology shapes human behaviour in Life Hack.

Sirens blare inside my head — loud blasts heard by no one but me. Red laser beams penetrate my brain like a spotlight searching audience members before the circus starts. 

The beauty of the Stream, my A.I., is that it knows my exact location at all times. Today, it figured out I'm skipping school. 


"Compress Your Mess pants, today only $49.99!" the ad flashes in my frontal lobe, hot pink pants strobe lights. I drool over the image displayed — me as an older, hotter version of myself, surrounded by jealous friends.

I hate going to the mall. My Stream gets spammed with ads it knows I can't resist: soft, silky, slimming pants that'll make my butt look like the girls at school. They already have three pairs. It would never cross their minds to be jealous of an offbeat outsider. 

"For you, and you ONLY today Lacey, we'll drop the price to $39.99 if you purchase in 1:00... 0:59….0:58…"

 I sprint to the cashier; how could I resist that offer? 

Transaction's almost complete when the headache portion of my punishment for playing hooky commences. At first a minor annoyance, but leave it like I did yesterday, and it'll grow to a crippling migraine, only stopping once I go back to that purgatory.

Once I finally go back to school and face him. 

I feel stupid that I never saw it coming. He always seemed so opposite of the rest of us, contented by lurking in the background when our A.I.'s are designed to make us stand out, but my Stream has never glitched out on me like that other girl's did at the party. It's supposed to be perfect. My whole life, it's been the only perfect thing about me.

When the Stream started being placed in every baby's brain across the country, it had a built-in safety precaution for every situation, alerting parents of our behaviour or pending danger. This way, trauma is more of a scary idea than a possibility. 

At least that's what I thought until now. Until now, knowing there's a hacker who can manipulate, ripping his way into people's minds. Knowing that if I tell anyone what I witnessed, he could do it to me. Knowing there's a boy skulking somewhere, plotting his revenge on a society that systematically eradicates rebels like us. 

A boy who cracked the code.

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.

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.

CBC Books's next writing competition for students is the Shakespeare Selfie student writing challenge, which will open in April 2019.