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The Unknown
A Gripping Mystery Thriller Full of Twists and Turns
For fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, or Stranger Things who want to discover something new ...


Eight kids, ages nine to seventeen, awaken to find that almost everything they have ever known has been stolen from them. They were ripped from their beds in the middle of the night and transported to an unfamiliar and unforgiving new world where there are strict rules, and they are punished if they refuse to obey.

As the kids grapple with their mysterious new reality, they struggle with disconcerting questions. Where in the world are they? Why were they taken away from their families? Will they ever get to go back home? And the most frightening question of all: Will this be the place where they die?


THE UNKNOWN tells the tale of five girls and three boys who are taken from their homes in the middle of the night and transported to a frightening and mysterious dystopia full of secrets. The story begins on the night of their kidnapping.

THE UNKNOWN is a unique must-read book for teens and adults who enjoy novels similar to best sellers like THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy (by Suzanne Collins), the DIVERGENT series (by Veronica Roth), ENDER'S GAME (by Orson Scott Card), THE GIVER (by Lois Lowry), THE MAZE RUNNER (by James Dashner), ONE OF US IS LYING (by Karen M. McManus), ELEANOR & PARK (by Rainbow Rowell), SHATTER ME (by Tahereh Mafi), LEGEND (by Marie Lu), UNWIND (by Neal Shusterman), UGLIES (by Scott Westerfeld), MATCHED (by Ally Condie), NOT IF I SAVE YOU FIRST (by Ally Carter), EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING (by Nicola Yoon), THE SIMULATION GAME (by J.W. Lynne), or ABOVE THE SKY (by J.W. Lynne).

THE UNKNOWN has been selected by ELA (English Language Arts) educators as recommended or required reading for middle school and high school students across the United States.

Praise for THE UNKNOWN:

"I have read hundreds of books and it is extremely rare for me to be surprised or give 5 stars. I almost always anticipate the plot twists. I thought I had this one all figured out from the very beginning. [I] couldn't have been more wrong! An exhilarating, emotional, fast paced read that I couldn't put down. This story was utterly unique." - Justine, Book Catharsis ★★★★★

"ONE EXCITING ADVENTURE!!! Wow! Captivating from start to finish. The characters are authentic, believable and so realistic." - Kaye, Goodreads ★★★★★

"Unique twist on the dystopian genre! Insanely thrilling!" - Kelly, Twinsie Talk Book Reviews ★★★★★

"I read A LOT and this book had lots of surprises which I didn't see coming. Great twists and turns. I definitely could not put this one down! I truly loved this book!" - Michelle, Goodreads ★★★★★

"Lots of suspense, twists, and turns. I never saw the ending coming. It was a total surprise and explained everything!" - Karon, Goodreads ★★★★★

"Gripping. Unique. Lots of mystery and intrigue. [Dystopian is] one of my favourite genres, but I haven't seen it written so well in a very long time. I finished reading this book in awe." - Carly, Goodreads ★★★★★

If you like fast-paced thrillers with intriguing mystery, captivating suspense, unexpected twists and turns, steadfast friendship, a dash of romance, and a surprise ending that brings everything together, don't miss this gripping new novel for teenage, young adult, and adult fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Stranger Things!

THE UNKNOWN is available as a Kindle ebook and paperback at Amazon.com.
THE UNKNOWN is available as an audiobook at Amazon.com, Audible, Kobo, Google Play, and Hoopla.

Read the THE UNKNOWN for FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

Are you planning to read The Unknown with your book club? Visit this page to find everything you need to get started, including information about the book, discussion questions, information about the author, review excerpts, and an excerpt from the book.

An excerpt from The Unknown

This room is about half the size of my bedroom back home. The only way in or out of here seems to be via hatches: four on the floor and two on the ceiling. On either side of this narrow space, there are four chairs and four small tables, all of them bolted down to the floor. Everything is pure white, except for a silver sink in one corner with eight silver cups set above it. Eight rectangular windows reveal that we are in some kind of aircraft, flying high above a body of water. An ocean, maybe. But which ocean?

There are three other kids in here. Two girls and one boy. All teenagers, but they're younger than me. The boy is probably the oldest of the three. He's maybe fifteen or sixteen. The girls look like they're twelve or thirteen. Everyone is wearing what appear to be their nightclothes, like I am, and they have ultra-short haircuts that match mine. The older-looking girl has reddened eyes, as if she's been crying. I haven't cried in a long time, and I don't plan to start now. Crying doesn't get you anywhere. I should know. I've cried more in my seventeen years than normal people do in an entire lifetime, and it has gotten me nowhere at all. Except maybe here.

Yesterday was a typical day. In the morning, my mom dragged me out of bed twenty minutes before school started and left me lying on the cold tile floor of the bathroom. I forced myself to take a shower, so I didn't smell bad enough or look greasy enough to attract unwanted attention from people. I hate attention from people. Especially the people at school. After my shower, I toweled off, got dressed, and ducked out of the house before my mom could give me yet another one of her disappointed stares. I was halfway to the bus stop before I realized that I forgot to brush my teeth. That didn't matter though. No one sees your teeth if you never smile.

School was normal, and by normal I mean it sucked. I missed pointless homeroom, but I arrived before the bell for first period. The school and I have an understanding that if I arrive in time for actual classes, I won't be disciplined for being tardy. Despite the fact that I've missed every homeroom since the start of twelfth grade, they're still planning to let me graduate in June.

At least they were. Who knows what's going to happen now?

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make it to school today.

Who knows if I'll ever make it to school again?

One more kid arrives. A girl, around thirteen years old. She looks bewildered, like the others, awkward and uncertain. She takes a seat on one of the chairs, probably because the rest of us are sitting, and she doesn't talk, probably because the rest of us aren't talking.

A few seconds later, a boy and a girl emerge together from one of the hatches on the floor. They can't be more than eight or nine years old. They're so little. Helpless. But that isn't my problem. I need to focus on how to get out of here. Not that I really want to get back home. But I don't want to let anyone take control of my life ... end my life. Even though maybe they should.

The youngest boy and girl sit together on a chair. They're so small that they share it as though it's a diminutive couch. That brings the total number of kids here to seven, including me. Everyone except for me emerged either alone or in pairs from one of the hatches on the floor. I am the only one who entered from a hatch on the ceiling. The other ceiling hatch is still closed tight. It could lead to anywhere. To another bedroom maybe. Or maybe it leads to our kidnappers.

Another minute passes before the remaining hatch on the ceiling finally opens. My body tenses as bare feet appear on the ladder that's below the hatch. The feet are big ones. Fully grown. Attached to muscular legs with hair growing on them. But I think he might be one of us, because he's wearing only boxers and a t-shirt. And then I see his face. Yes, he's a kid. About my age. Maybe a little older. Like all of the rest of us, his head has been shaved, rendering him nearly bald.

"Where the hell are we?" he says loudly.

I feel a shock inside me at the noise of his voice, disturbing the silence.

"Be quiet," the littlest girl says. Her tone is firm and gentle at the same time. "The bad men might hear you."

She's a bold little girl. The kind of little girl I used to be.

"I hope they do hear me," he responds. "I want them to come in here and tell me what the hell is going on."

I roll my eyes at his bravado. "And then what are you going to do?" I ask the boy.

His gaze locks with mine. "What do you propose?" he asks me, bristling.

I look at the faces of the other kids. They're scared. I doubt arguing with this boy will help assuage their fears. The boy and I appear to be the oldest ones here. We need to take control. Or at least I do.

I inhale and address the group as a whole, "I take it that, last night, strangers wearing masks took each of you from your homes. And you were given an injection to make you sleep. And you woke up a little while ago in a coffin-bed. Is that right?"

Slowly, everyone nods.

"So we're all in the same boat." I'm really not sure where to go from here, so I buy myself some time, "Why don't we go around in a circle and introduce ourselves? Tell your age, a little about yourself, and what you're good at." That is something we did on the first day of a group therapy session I went to back in sixth grade. I got sent there because the useless school counselor said I had to attend at least one therapy session after I got beat up in the gym locker room. I went once, but I never went back because I was sure that it wouldn't help me. Even at that age, I already knew that nothing could help me.

And then I have a thought. "Maybe we shouldn't use our real names ... in case the kidnappers don't already know them," I say. "You can pick another name for us to call you. Whatever name you want."

The difficult boy slumps down into one of the two remaining empty seats. I guess he's done confronting me ... for the moment.

"You go first," the littlest girl says to me.

Maybe she should be the one in charge.

"Okay." I exhale. "I'm ... I'm seventeen years old," I say. "I'm good at swimming, which is pretty useless in our current situation. That's about it. Next."

"And what should we call you?" the little girl asks.

I hadn't really thought about that. I figured I'd go last, not first, so I'd have time to think. "You ... you can call me ..." I despise my real name. This is my chance to pick a name that fits me. An honest name. We need to be honest with each other. "You might as well call me what my mom calls me," I say. "'Unpleasant.' Because I'm generally unpleasant."

If I had said such a thing at school, everyone would have laughed at me. But no one here laughs. Not even the smallest of snickers. Not even from Difficult Boy. They all just turn to the kid to my left. The youngest boy. And focus their attention on him.


Read more of The Unknown by J.W. Lynne at Amazon.com!

Popular quotes from The Unknown:

“Nobody is normal once you get to know them.”

“I don’t think you really know for sure what you’ll do until it comes down to the moment when you have to make that decision for real.”

“You can’t stop living your life because you’re afraid that something is going to go wrong.”

“When we give up hope, we give up living. And so we never give up hope, even when everything seems hopeless.”

“The problem is, the hardest time to admit you need help is when you need it the most.”

“When all you have left of the people you love are things, then the things become really important.”

“They can hurt you, but they can only break you if you let them.”
About this novel:

Genre or genres of literature:  sci-fi (science fiction), dystopian, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller, coming of age, action and adventure, ya (young adult)
Point of view: first person with four alternating narrators
Gender of protagonists: two male and two female
Page count: under 400 pages
  J.W. Lynne is the author of eleven novels popular among teen, YA (young adult), and adult readers. Lynne's works of fiction feature preteen and teenage main characters.

Books best for kids in middle school through adults: The Unknown, The Simulation Game, Kid Docs, and Wild Animal School

Books best for teenagers in high school through adults: Above the Sky, Lost in Los Angeles, and Lost in Tokyo.

(Last updated February 2022)