by John Scalzi.
Ensign Andrew Dahl and his old friend Jimmie Hanson meet Maia Duvall while waiting for the shuttle to their new posting, the Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union fleet. Two other ensigns, Hester and Finn, are on the same shuttle, newly reassigned from other ships. The five of them soon realize that the old hands are seriously paranoid about away missions, and not without reason--every time a party leaves the ship, someone dies; and it's always someone of low rank, never the captain, the science officer, the doctor, the chief engineer, or the astrogator (though the astrogator does get beaten up a lot). Something deeply weird is happening on the Intrepid, and Dahl and his new friends are going to have to do some really weird things to get to the bottom of it.
I'm a big fan of Scalzi, so of course I read this new one as soon as I could get my hands on it. I had inadvertently read some reviews with spoilers, so I knew a couple of places the novel was going; but it still surprised me towards the end. Parts of it were fall down funny, and parts were quite poignant, and all of it was very meta. Great fun overall.