When I got this book a while ago from NetGalley, I figured that I would go back and read the first book in the time I had before this one came out. But of course, the problem with my access to so many books is that every day my to-read list gets longer and longer. So when I finally got to this one, I just wanted to read it, and hoped that I didn’t need the backstory. Based on my experience, I would say it is not mandatory, but probably recommended. I am not the type to like people telling inside jokes when I am not “inside” with them, and that is about the same feeling reading a book you have not come prepared to read. Plus, the author does not really offer any recap at all, despite the fact that there were apparently eight years between the two books.
Having said that, I will say I did enjoy this book, for the most part. I always offer a little caveat, because I am an adult reading a young adult book. For instance, I loved the idea that Tom Henderson, the King Dork of the title, has a terrific vocabulary, and is an avid, though eclectic reader. But the fact that he so frequently says, “if that means what I think it means” is an affectation that I found completely annoying after the tenth or eleventh repetition, and Tom says it throughout the entire book. I feel like Tom is already such a victim, that to constantly second guess what is clearly one of his few skills is demeaning to him as a character, and does not engender my sympathy as a reader.
I would recommend reading both in quick succession. There are a lot of well-written characters here, and the story is told with intelligence and humor, despite some heavy topics.