Although you can read this book with just a bit of MVC understanding, it would definitely be a struggle. That's because although it does explain MVC2 concepts, I would say that the book has a strong "recipe flavor". The main emphasis is applying and extending MVC2. For example, the first chapter on Areas introduces the concept and shows how it works. A second chapter is devoted to creating "Portable Areas" that can be placed outside of the main MVC project, including completely separate solutions.. Very cool, and fills a hole in MVC2. A large site with all of its views and controllers in one project can be quite cumbersome in Visual Studio, even with areas.
The authors' association with MvcContrib shows throughout the book. Besides the already-mentioned portable areas, they cover the mvc grid, fluent interfaces, test helpers, Bus, and so on. But they also use AutoMapper, NHibernate, unit test frameworks, StructureMap and other common libraries and frameworks in their examples.
The writing is clear and flows well. The examples are many, extended and practical. No "hello world" here. Instead you get items such as how to add a diagnostic capability for displaying routing information on pages. Some of these sample projects also appear on MvcContrib-linked videos or blogs, but book presentation gives a lot more room for explanation.
Code is a big fraction of the text, which in this case is a Good Thing. Along with each section of code, cueballs are attached that are then explained in the text (a standard Manning thing). For some projects, not all of the code is in the book. The full code, organized by chapter, is a download.
By the end, almost everything in MVC2 has been thoroughly examined, as well as supporting subjects such as deployment and testing. This is a book that is also a coding companion, reinforcing its "recipe" aspect. I have already incorporated some of the covered tools and techniques into my own projects. This book is a must-have for the serious mvc2 developer. I don't write many reviews. This book merited the effort. Very highly recommended.
Any complaints? No. But like anything excellent, you want more. For instance, I would like to have seen Entity Framework 4 covered in addition to NHibernate.
This review is based on the eBook version. The presence of color in the pdf is a nice addition, though most of my reading was on the Kindle DX.