Just when I think John could not write a better book than his last, he proves me wrong again. Every book in this series is better than the last. Although the series builds off the other books, each are easily read as a stand alone novel. You really don't need to read the others to understand what is happening, although you probably will want to. By reading the other books in the series, you gain a better understanding of how the characters think, and the reasons why they do things the way they do. Every character (even the nasty ones) are so real, you feel you have known them forever. When an author creates characters you can really become invested in (as John does), you truly care what happens to them, and root for them to succeed. As an advanced reader, I have the opportunity to enjoy these books prior to publication. As soon as they are available, I immediately buy a copy. I heartily recommend you do the same. Go ahead, press the "Buy" button. I promise you will not regret it.