I cheated and read book 3 and book 5 first. However, it did not take away from my enjoyment of the novel. There is significant character development and frame story setup while dealing with Oliver and Maria individual stories. You also get a great sense of Oliver and his siblings and how close they are. The relationship between them and their grandmother is also well developed. It was a fun read. I'm looking forward to reading book 2 to see more of the family.