Review | Unknown by Wendy Higgins

In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more. 


Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have. 

First thing to clear up and get out of the way is the fact that this is NOT a romance. It’s sort of pitched like a romance story, but that only factors into about 3% of this book. There’s some sexual tension and unrequited love (or so it seems). The two characters don’t get together, nor do they come close to it. So if you’re wanting a romance to blossom in this first book, you won’t find it here. But if you’re willing to wait it out, I think you should definitely pick this up.

What is included from the beginning and continues throughout is the family bond which extends to close friends in this case. I loved seeing how close and devoted they were to one another, and in the situation they find themselves in, that is vital. About the first 25% of the book is backstory and buildup which shows the characters growing up and Amber dealing with Rylen’s leaving for the military, both through flashbacks and present day

This is the way Wendy Higgins writes. She’s very, very detailed, and she likes to explore every crevice of the character and story. To put it simply, the writing is great with well developed characters. The in-depth descriptions are meant to solidify our connection and understanding to the characters pre-end of the world, and to show how mundane these people are prior to disaster. It makes it easy to sympathize with them all and put ourselves in their shoes, proving it can happen to anyone.

The apocalyptic aspect is also, of course, the prime focus. The prologue embeds an intrigue and puzzling mystery that lingers in the back of the mind throughout the novel. I wish the action had started earlier on in the book. It had a really slow build up, with getting to know the characters and a bit of the romance building. I struggled with a good portion of the first quarter or so of the book because of this. I think I just expected the character set up and development to coincide with the attacks and survival. Once the catastrophe happened and chaos ensued, I was hooked.

I also expected a little more of the romance between the heroine and her older bother’s best friend, Rylen. So when the heroine, Amber, goes out with another guy, my stomach began to churn. There’s a particular sex scene (I say that loosely), that I truly wish had never been written in. It was immensely cringeworthy and uncomfortable, and inspired enough regret for me AND Amber.

Rylen was extremely sweet, but perhaps a tad bit too noble for my liking. This sounds vague, but you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you get to the part I’m referring to. The story being from the perspective of Amber, we feel her pain and share her uncertainties and confusion. She’s so strong and kind-hearted. She has a passion for helping people, and has a pretty good head on shoulders when it comes to most things. 

Overall, this was a frightening realistic book. The whole time I kept thinking what I would do in their situation. It’s scary to read at this moment in time with everything going on in the world.
I feel like and hope that some of the vague areas in this book left unexplained will reveal themselves in the books to come. I’m looking forward to seeing how this all plays out in the next book UNREST, which comes out in January of next year. 

Coming February 16, 2017!

Being on the run in the desert means food and sanctuary are hard to come by, but Amber Tate and her crew are not about to give up. Not after having so many of the things they love brutally ripped from them by an unknown enemy who sent their world into the apocalypse.

Survival takes precedence, but once safe shelter is found, their guards fall and the emotions they’ve been holding in are finally released. Anger, insecurities...lust. In their tight quarters, Amber, Rylen, Tater, and Remy can't escape it. The past must be faced, and passions run even stronger in the darkest of times.

In the midst of unrest, their worlds are rocked again when they discover the truth about the war that’s ruined their lives. They thought finding out the enemy's identity would give them the edge; instead it’s revealed terrifying dangers they never thought possible.

Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NYT bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, the high fantasy duology The Great Hunt, and her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and doggie Rue.
Wendy earned a bachelor's in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master's in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University. She is represented by Jill Corcoran of the Jill Corcoran Literary Agency.