I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
I was worried that IAN, the AI, wouldn't play much of a role given the excerpt of this novel given out for the Hugo packet. So I took it out of the library, and quite frankly blew through this. I disagree about the flashbacks. I say disagree, and what I mean is I read at least one review about how great it was to learn about them in the past.
I was far more interested in the present, and while I didn't particularly mind the flashbacks, I found a couple a bit too drawn out and I found myself starting to get bored.
However, this is a minor complaint. This is a mystery set on a spaceship in a universe where people can clone themselves, put their memories in the new bodies, and voila, new life. When you die and wake up in a new cloned body, it's called a wake. (And you can only wake in your own body; in this universe, there are issues in going into other bodies, those issues being going crazy.)
Criminals are chosen to go on the first ever generation ship: they will be cloned as much as needed until they get to a new body, and then clone their crew. The proper memories will be put in the proper bodies, and hey, new colony. And the criminals will no longer have to live as criminals on this new world.
But just in case something goes wrong, the super sophisticated AI, IAN, will run the ship and be able to protect the criminals from, well, their criminal tendencies. And it all works, until they all wake up in a bloody room. They've been killed, someone has thrown the emergency switch that will clone them and wake them. IAN is malfunctioning, and their cloning tech has been destroyed. Their memories of the twenty five years they've been on the ship have been erased. These are their last lives, unless they can manage to fix IAN and fix the tech, or at least find a way around it.
It's a pretty tight mystery and a fun book as they try to figure out which of the crew members is the murderer, as well as worrying about how much time they have left. And IAN comes into play pretty heavily in the end, so I was super into that part. Especially since I didn't see how he was going to play into the story until it was revealed: I was pleasantly surprised by his origin story, so to speak.
Knocked down one half star for feeling like it lagged a bit during the flashbacks. They wouldn't stop me from rereading this, but they bothered me enough to knock off a half a star.