Books·The First Page

Juliana Narváez Gutierrez, Leonardo Mete win The First Page student writing challenge

Greenfield Park's Juliana Narváez Gutierrez, 14, and Kamloops' Leonardo Mete, 15, have won CBC's national writing competition for Grades 7 to 12 students.
Juliana Narváez Gutierrez and Leonardo Mete are the 2019 winners of The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Gutierrez and Mete)

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.

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

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.

Narváez Gutierrez is a student at Centennial Regional High School. Her story No Choice imagines a futuristic society where emotion is manufactured and individuality is censored.

"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."

Mete is a student at South Kamloops Secondary School. His story Below Zero, Above Thirty-Two follows an intrepid explorer roaming a world ravaged by the effects of global warming. 

"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."

Both Narváez Gutierrez and Mete will receive one year of OwlCrate, a monthly book subscription service, and 50 books for each of their school libraries. 

You can read both Narváez Gutierrez and Mete's stories, as well as all the finalists, below.

Grades 7 to 9 category finalists

Grades 10 to 12 category finalists

The First Page student writing challenge will return in the fall of 2020. 

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