The Mountain in the Sea

Hardcover, 646 pages

English language

Published Jan. 31, 2023 by W&N.

Copied ISBN!

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (2 reviews)

There are creatures in the water of Con Dao. To the locals, they're monsters. To the corporate owners of the island, an opportunity. To the team of three sent to study them, a revelation.

Their minds are unlike ours. Their bodies are malleable, transformable, shifting. They can communicate. And they want us to leave.

When pioneering marine biologist Dr. Ha Nguyen is offered the chance to travel to the remote Con Dao Archipelago to investigate a highly intelligent, dangerous octopus species, she doesn't pause long enough to look at the fine print. DIANIMA- a transnational tech corporation best known for its groundbreaking work in artificial intelligence - has purchased the islands, evacuated their population and sealed the archipelago off from the world so that Nguyen can focus on her research. But the stakes are high: the octopuses hold the key to unprecedented breakthroughs in extrahuman intelligence and there are vast …

5 editions

Asks many interesting questions, has the sense not to try to give pat answers

5 stars

So much to love about this book, how it weaves together unanswerable questions about consciousness and computation, together with a much more didactic message about humans' consumptive relationships with, well, everything including each other, and enough of a mystery story to keep the plot moving along. Also some great evocations of places (ahhh, multiple key scenes on Istanbul ferries), and of the ways peoples' reputations misrepresent their selves.

It's not a strongly character driven book - every character that is fleshed out seems to be a variant of "loner who wishes for connection" and largely a vehicle for the author's ideas - but there's enough depth to the characters to keep me reading. My one real criticism is that the ending felt a bit rushed. Not in the sort of too convenient, story-undermining way, but not quite satisfying either. It doesn't feel like a set up for a sequel, but …