"I was nine when I saw my first ghost."It's rare that an opening line grabs me as this one did. In that one sentence, I was sucked in for the rest of the book. It's also not often that I love a book so much I want to shove it into the hands of the first (possibly unwilling) pair of hands I see and yell, "read this read this READ THIS!" The Passage by Justin Cronin was one of them, The Fever Series by Karen Moning another. It was that good. It kept me up at night, turning pages. I was distracted while helping a friend paint, because all I could think was "I want to get back to my book." In the end, it took me just over a full 24 hours to read it. I simply could not put it down. It has become a member of "The Measuring Stick Books" - books by which I measure all others:Friend: OMG have you read such-and-such by so-and-so?!Me: Is it as good as The Passage/Fever/The Restorer?Friend: Well...Me: Bottom of the TBR pile.It made me anxious for its characters, envious of the town's residents, intrigued by the secrecy, frightened by the apparitions and ultimately, wanting to know who the "bad guy" was. Each time I was sure I knew, I found out how incredibly wrong I was. That's how I judge a spectacular author: make me live your book and I'm going to love you, slobber at your feet and ache for your recognition. Stevens incorporated strong characters (both primary and secondary), smooth plot lines and twists so staggering, they made you dizzy. The first-person narrative ('cause you know how I love my first-person) was exceptionally well written, the plot was intriguing and it was entirely a heart-palpitating read. Stevens deftly wrapped together all these wonderful components of a novel and just delivered it to our feet with a big ol' bow. Merry Christmas! I don't care if it's April.I can't wait for the follow-up to this absolutely fantastic book. Amanda Stevens, you rock!GO READ IT NOW.