I read this book when I was in high school. It got my hooked into the rest of the series.
I am very glad I have chosen to read this series. It is different enough from the tv series to enjoy it as a stand alone, but it is nice to have a mental image of how the characters could look like in "real life."
I have started with the Prequel and the first 2 books of the series. The Prequel was great - it definitely set the tone for the series of books and again was close to the tv show, but different enough to enjoy it alone.
One of the frustrations I have with the first and second book lie in the repetition. Let me explain - If you read them in order, the first book retells background stories that were in the prequel and the second retells background stories from the first book. Its kinda irritating when you reread a story that you just read in the previous book. I don't need it repeated because I just read it. This may have allowed these books to stand on their own and not be a series, but reading them as a series - this point has annoyed me.
I would recommend this series to girls my age who want some semi-mindless pool reading where you are already familiar with the characters. As far as the younger crowd - just as in the tv show, there is a little more sex, love and rock and roll then I would recommend to my teen crowd. Maybe kids are reading and seeing more than I did growing up, but I just couldn't pass this series onto my niece when she comes to the recommended age.
This is just a fun, quick read with out any real substance. I read it in a little more than an hour. I watched the first season of the show and was strangely drawn to all the craziness that surrounds the characters. It's a soap opera world they live in. If you're looking for a better written, high society book, check out the Luxe series.