Let me start by saying that these are stand alone books. The stories, the characters, everything about these books are separate (except that that happen in space.) With that being said, I loved the first book, this book not so much. I'm not sure what about this story did not connect with me, but I had a very hard time associating with these characters and making connections to them and the story.
The writing is superb, the setting unique, and the mystery was intriguing; I really should have enjoyed this much better than I did. So my recommendation is to pick it up and give it a try for yourself. Certainly pick up the first book as well, but don't feel you have to read it before this one. As I said, I really wanted to enjoy this, but for some reason it just didn't connect with me personally and that should not stop you from reading it for yourself.