Books·The First Page

Reasonable Paranoia by Ava Swanson

Ava Swanson, 14, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 7 to 9 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2019 finalist: Grades 7 to 9 category

Ava Swanson, 14, is a 2019 finalist in the Grades 7 to 9 category for The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Ava Swanson)

Reasonable Paranoia by Ava Swanson 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 2,000 students submitted their stories.

Swanson, a student at SelfDesign in Prince George, B.C., writes about the loss of privacy in a digital world.

I could tell they hated having an incomplete file on me. I looked at the package the robot handed to me. Must be another E-assistant or maybe an exercise bot. Fifth thing they sent this month.

"I don't want this." I said, handing the package back.

"Citizen Emzul, it's a free package from Kamize Corporation," it replied in its artificially cheerful voice.

"I don't care if it's from the prime minister herself, go away! Take the package with you." Then I slammed the door.

I collapsed down on a chair and looked about the shack I call home. My lonely home is defiantly no mansion, but hey, at least there wasn't any cookies tracking my every move, "to provide the best service possible." I glanced out the window and watched a robot walk up to my door. At first, I thought it was a particularly persistent delivery bot. Then I saw the red leaf with "police" written on it. I prayed I was wrong about why they were here.

At first, I thought it was a particularly persistent delivery bot. Then I saw the red leaf with 'police' written on it.

It knocked. I got up and I walked over to the door, not opening it.

"Uh, can I help you?" I asked through the door.

"Citizen Emzul, we are here to transfer you to an educational facility for troubled adolescence." The robot said.

"I don't remember breaking any laws, want to fill me in on what makes me so troubled?" I asked grabbing the go bag, the one I had packed just in case.

"Do not be worried Emzul, you are not in trouble. This program is here to help you with your antisocial and anti-technology tendencies, so you can become the best citizen you can be," it replied.

I slid on my shoes and put on my coat. "That's really interesting, I'll definitely think it over."

" Emzul, attendance is mandatory, we will be departing now. "

"Just let me tie my shoes."

I dashed to the back door only to find another robot blocking that exit. Alright, change of plans. I ran up the stairs and opened the closest window. I heard the front door open, seems Mr. Robot is onto me. I tried to climb onto the roof and had just managed to get my upper body onto it, when I felt cold metal clasp my ankle.

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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