Lost In Transmission by Wil McCarthy
This is the third book in the Wellstone / Queendom series. Some things are likely to be puzzling if you haven't read at least the previous book, "The Wellstone".
The preceding book in this series told about "The Children's Revolt". Lost In Transmission continues with the aftermath. Several thousand youths are exiled by being sent on an interstellar colony ship to establish humanity's first settlement outside the Solar System. Traveling at much slower than light speed, the 6 light-year trip takes them about 100 years plus another 20 years for braking in the Bernard system. Most of the youths have been stored as computer data for the entire journey and most of the remainder were stored for the majority of the trip.
The first approximately quarter of the book is involved in the spaceship's journey to the other star system. This provides the reader with background and some framework. On a conceptual level, it presents ideas of a slower-than-light interstellar trip during which there are no generations of people because the people are stored electronically for later reanimation.
The remainder of the book follows Conrad through careers and phases of his life, in the process showing us the development of the colony. The colony planet is less than ideal. It's metal-poor, making it dependent on mining elsewhere in the system. The atmosphere has too much chlorine to be healthy to unmodified humans. It's relatively close to its star and doesn't have enough natural protection from solar radiation. These factors lead to some protective modification of traditional-looking people and more highly modified bodies for some people. It also imposes a difficult development of the economy. We learn that the "fax machines" (replicators) can be used to produce practically anything, but they can't produce an essential part of a "fax machine". This places limits on the colony.
The portrayal of a new colony in another star system may be a bit spotty. The book presents a somewhat different view of interstellar travel and a colony on a new planet. This provides food for thought within the assumptions of a world with programmable matter and "fax machines" that can store people, repair disease and aging in people, replicate products, teleport things, etc. Those assumptions necessarily lead to significant differences with other SF without those assumptions.
Some readers may find the amazing technology of programmable matter and “fax machines” seems at odds with the lack of starships zipping around the galaxy as is common in so much SF.
The first and last chapters of the book take place at a different time and place, with nothing but the presence of two characters to link them to the remainder of the volume. I would guess that these two chapters will essentially be part of the last book in the series. (The four books in the series came out between 2000 and 2005, so I assume the series is finished and the fourth volume is the last.) If they are not story-wise part of book four, then it seems their inclusion only confuses matters. Even assuming they tie into book four, they can certainly seem out of place in book three.