There Will Never Be Another You by Antonia Starcevic
2023 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category
There Will Never Be Another You by Antonia Starcevic is one of 11 stories shortlisted for The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 10 to 12 category for 2023.
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. More than 1,200 students submitted their stories.
The shortlist was selected by a team of writers across Canada. The winners will be selected by bestselling YA writer Courtney Summers and be announced on May 31.
Starcevic, 16, a student at McNally High School in Edmonton, writes about artificial intelligence and android manufacturing and its impact on society.
LISTEN | Antonia Starcevic on Radio Active
It began when Charlie brought Ana home, marking the day I became a third party in my own marriage and the impending fight for my own skin.
Ana, with her porcelain skin and hair that was made for television — always perfect, never moved. Ana, with her comically perfect shape that was immune to the gravitational pull. Ana, with her scintillating doe eyes that Charlie had inserted into her head with the utmost gloved care, as though he were building a ship in a bottle, instead of assembling the other woman right in our living room, in front of me.
Happy Helpmate was sweeping throughout homes like a disease. First, there had been the harmless disembodied voice living in the screen of your back pocket. Several years later, the beguiling, lifeless voice got a face to match, and people started to see each other less, eyes trained on the pixelated omniscient beauty in their grasp. After years of test runs and decoys, Happy Helpmate was unleashed; the omniscient beauty could now live in your very home as another member of the family! Help boot your wife over her hill and welcome your very own doting Ana with open arms!
"Isn't she a beaut?" Charlie barked from the sleek obsidian kitchen table, Ana whirring around him with her dutiful Greenly Clean! supplied finger, spraying at nonexistent smudges with a bright plastic smile. I watched ageless, automatic Ana perform her duties with grace, while I sat curled up on the concrete steps, the cold seeping into my mortal body that circulated blood and oxygen, that would rot like the Earth and be buried, and Ana would continue to exist outside of my Decomposition Pod, frozen in time like a picture.
"She's just swell, honey!" I replied, but it was strangled with loathing for abhorrent Ana, how a harsh spray of Greenly Clean! into her vacuous eye wouldn't blind, wouldn't even sting. She would continue to stare, her smile pulled so taut it would make my own mouth ache.
Empty, hollow, vile Ana was the version of myself the people sweated and bled to create, rendering me the preceding edition, a waste. I couldn't sit idle, a relic of the past, when human connection was all the rage. No, I had to take matters into my ephemeral hands.
A plan was percolating, slipping into the reaches of my mind.
CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2173. 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 bestselling author Courtney Summers.
Summers has won numerous awards, including the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult literature, the 2019 Odyssey Award and the 2020 Forest of Reading White Pine Award. Her 2021 book The Project won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Young Adult novel.
- Andre Fenton, author of The Summer Between Us
- Michael Hutchinson, author of The Mighty Muskrats Mystery series
- Sarena & Sasha Nanua, authors of Sisters of the Snake and Daughters of the Dawn
- Judy I. Lin, author of The Book of Tea duology
- Caryn Lix, author of The Sanctuary series
- Kern Carter, author of Boys and Girls Screaming
- Cale Atkinson, author and illustrator of Simon and Chester: Super Detectives!
- Deborah Falaye, author of Blood Scion
The winner will be announced on CBC Books on May 31, 2023.
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.