Juliana Narváez Gutierrez, Leonardo Mete win The First Page student writing challenge
Greenfield Park, Que.'s Juliana Narváez Gutierrez, 14, and Kamloops, B.C.'s Leonardo Mete, 15, have won The 2019 First Page student writing challenge, a national speculative fiction writing competition for Grades 7 to 12 students in Canada.
Nearly 2,000 entries were submitted — 1,285 entries were collected from the Grades 7 to 9 category and 702 entries from the Grades 10 to 12 category.
The challenge asked students to write the first page of a novel imagining how current affairs and trends — from the climate crisis to surveillance — have played out in the year 2169.
Bestselling YA author Kelley Armstrong chose the two winners from 10 finalists in the Grades 7 to 9 category and 10 finalists in the Grades 10 to 12 category.
"Genre fiction has a tradition of the slow burn, where a seemingly everyday scene takes on greater and more unsettling weight as it progresses, culminating in a final, chilling twist. Science fiction also pushes us to look at ideas and issues we may not have considered before," said Armstrong. "No Choice accomplishes both of those, the impact made even more effective by its deceptively cheerful narrative voice."
"The best issue-driven science fiction approaches those issues obliquely, laying them out for the reader to experience and interpret," said Armstrong. "Below Zero, Above Thirty-Two does that with a very well-written and evocative scene that reserves its final punch for the ending."
Grades 7 to 9 category finalists
- Winner: No Choice by Juliana Narváez Gutierrez, 14, from Greenfield Park, Que.
- Children of Nine by Cheyenne Gawley, 14, from West Kelowna, B.C.
- The Lizard King by Rhiannon Krauthaker, 14, from Winnipeg
- City of Masks by Annabel Li, 13, from North Vancouver, B.C.
- The First by Victor Li, 13, from Mississauga, Ont.
- The Shadow of the Green by Sebastian Romero, 12, from Calgary
- The Eye by Adam Schneider, 14, from Calgary
- Breathe by Sapphira Skuter, 13, from Victoria
- Reasonable Paranoia by Ava Swanson, 14, from Prince George, B.C.
- The Thing in the Cacti by Leyao Xiao, 14, from Toronto
Grades 10 to 12 category finalists
- Winner: Below Zero, Above Thirty-Two by Leonardo Mete, 15, from Kamloops, B.C.
- Happiless by Lilith Brodt, 15, from Coquitlam, B.C.
- Rebellion by Alex Chen, 14, from Vancouver
- Shelf Life by Sobin Lim, 17, from Coquitlam, B.C.
- Blue Age by Lily Liu, 17, from Toronto
- Press esc. to Exit by Anjali Rao, 17, from Aurora, Ont.
- Biodome E231 by Schuyler Siewe, 16, from Calgary
- Freedom of Tears by Lizzie Slogotski, 15, from Victoria
- Running to Mars by Sumayya Taher, 14, from Edmonton
- ERROR LOV3 by Victoria Thacker, 17, from Ottawa
The First Page student writing challenge will return in the fall of 2020.