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Book Rec: The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler

Updated: Jul 7

“The great and terrible thing about humankind is simply this: we will always do what we are capable of.”

Wow! This book is intriguing, thrilling and left me on the edge of my seat waiting for a sequel (I hope). I also think this book would be amazing on the big screen (which I rarely say). I loved diving into this futuristic world exploring the intelligent life of an octopus species with its own language and culture. The Mountain in the Sea is an amazing literary debut and unlike anything I’ve ever read!

Book cover of The Mountain in the Sea with an orange octupus in the sea

Discussion questions below for your book club.

Book Jacket of The Mountain in the Sea

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.

Discussion Guide (spoilers ahead)

  1. In this futuristic world, AI has developed tremendously. What do you think of Evrim and the other robots operating throughout this universe?

  2. One of the dominant themes explores human consciousness. How does Evrim’s awareness of their consciousness relate to humanity? Do you think Evrim is human?

  3. What is more terrifying – nature or other people?

  4. The most unforgivable sin here is indifference. How does the novel explore this pervading theme? Do you fear this same indifference in the world today?

If you liked this book, be sure to check out Remarkably Bright Creatures!


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