The Mountain in the Sea Review

  • Author: Ray Nayler
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • No. of pages: 464
  • Dates read: 16.02.2023 – 21.02.2023
  • Star Rating: 5 stars

Plot: Rumors begin to spread of a species of hyperintelligent, dangerous octopus that may have developed its own language and culture. Marine biologist Dr. Ha Nguyen, who has spent her life researching cephalopod intelligence, will do anything for the chance to study them. The transnational tech corporation DIANIMA has sealed the remote Con Dao Archipelago, where the octopuses were discovered, off from the world. Dr. Nguyen joins DIANIMA’s team on the islands: a battle-scarred security agent and the world’s first android. The octopuses hold the key to unprecedented breakthroughs in extrahuman intelligence. The stakes are high: there are vast fortunes to be made by whoever can take advantage of the octopuses’ advancements, and as Dr. Nguyen struggles to communicate with the newly discovered species, forces larger than DIANIMA close in to seize the octopuses for themselves. But no one has yet asked the octopuses what they think. And what they might do about it.

Now, if I am being honest, this is not the kind of book I would pick up off the shelf by myself. This book was sent to me by the publishers Weidenfeld & Nicolson and I am so eternally grateful to receive and read this book.

This book is so much more about an incredibly intelligent Octopus. This book is kind of a window to the future, to what our future may be like if we stray down the path we are going. Where AI and technology start to take over our world when corporations get greedy and we destroy our eco-system, over-fishing, capitalism, and modern-day slavery. This book covers a lot. This book covers so much that on paper you think how can this author cover all of these themes in a coherent and easy-to-follow/accessible way while also maintaining an engaging story about humanity and connection as well as a killer Octopus? Well, Nayler does all of that and more.

We don’t just follow Dr Nguyen in this story. Though I will be honest and say her POVs were my favourite in the book. We follow a myriad of characters who showcase insights into this world and how they were affected whether that be directly due to the actions of this incredible Octopus or by the machinations of a greedy corporation. We see both the highs and lows of human existence between these pages and I felt Nayler did a great job at getting to the core of the human experience at its most threatened.

My favourite parts of the novel though, as must as the research into this highly dangerous Octopus were great, my favourite parts were between Dr Nguyen and the people on the island specifically her blossoming friendship and personal connection to Evrim the very first AI human. Their scenes when they are discussing what it means to be human, what it means to experience life hardships and what it truly means to have human connection were just so poignant and I was drawn into everything they had to say.

What started as an exciting look at a species I didn’t know too much about led me to learn a lot about myself along the way. It lead me to learn how humans are not that far removed from other species out there and also how cool octopuses’ actually are!

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