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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Playing in the Rain: When All That Matters is Freedom by Sandra J. Jackson is the first book in the author's Escape Series. It starts with an awakening in a sterile hospital after the teen protagonist, A2, is kidnapped. Unable to even recognize herself in the mirror, it is slowly revealed that she is trapped in an aesculapian facility called C.E.C.I.L.: Contagion Eradication Center for Intelligent Life. Attending to her is Jasper, who pumps her body full of pharmaceuticals and occasionally dispenses information, disclosing to A2 that another shut-in named B2 is, in fact, her sister. Hints about the life they had before the experiment begin to intensify following a lab fire and the introduction of the true antagonist, prophetically named Cecil himself, which fuel the survivor's longing to escape.
Playing in the Rain by Sandra J. Jackson is a slow burn of a story. While it is instantly engrossing, Jackson has masterfully crafted a narrative that unravels itself with each page, which is refreshing in a time where information-dumping has become the norm in the genre as a whole. It would be a mistake to take the unhurried revelations as sluggish; the pacing is absolutely perfect and the building of suspense is first rate. The plot is unique and the writing is tight and crisp, complete with dialogue that comes across as authentic despite an artificially inspired environment. I would recommend this book to readers who adore intelligent thrillers, suspense, mysteries with strong female leads, and a narrative that allows for the measured development of an excellent story.