Reviews

The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler

invicticide's review against another edition

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dark mysterious reflective tense medium-paced

4.0

The first little bit feels unfocused, but things start coming together through the middle and the themes get strong, building toward a well-crafted and thoughtful ending. It's worth sticking through that initial friction!

bphh's review against another edition

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mysterious reflective tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.0

ag11's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional informative inspiring medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.75

crockpothead's review against another edition

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adventurous dark reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

jupiterswill's review against another edition

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3.0

Okay. Phew. Okay.

The Mountain in the Sea was an incredible read. A very, very incredible read if you're a researcher-- especially if you specialize in anything that's cognitive neuroscience, marine biology, artificial intelligence, sociology or linguistics which, quite frankly, are all fields I adore.

Nayler talks a lot about the challenges we would face when meeting a species as conscious as us, having its own society, its own language and needing to understand it, and on top all of this, he adds the ethical challenges that would come with AI.

He does it in such an interesting way though, I'd find myself giggling (yeah, literally) and getting excited over ideas thinking "that's so smart!" or "huhh, good approach". This almost felt like an academic read-- a hypothesis, really, of what could happen. A guideline to follow. The dos and the donuts.

Now the reason I gave this three stars was because the pace, even though the story was madly interesting, was really slow. I started this book in February 2023, went through the most horrible reading slump I've ever experienced, started reading again, but didn't pick it up until August. I started it again, read and finished two books and a 300k fanfic in between (it was also research based, funnily enough), and am only now finishing the book, in the end of September.

I didn't have the instinct to pick it up, even though I thought the story was really cool.

The thing is Nayler is a good storyteller, he just has a lot of ideas. I think another book, or even perhaps a trilogy, could've been a better way to tell this story. He still did it fantastically well-- but it got confusing every so often, and it was hard, sometimes, to care for some characters. There was sooo much information being given. It only started connecting toward the end and even then, I think there's some parts he had to remove to keep the story from being too long that would've benefited the reader.

But again. A delight to read for a curious mind.

sarajaneh's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional informative inspiring reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot

4.5

unladylike's review against another edition

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3.0

3.5 stars

There's no doubt that "Nature is Fucking Lit!" as the name of one or two social media meme accounts I follow can attest, and I personally love octopuses in particular very much, and am grateful that I've had the opportunity to see them on night dives in their natural habitat. I think I would have given this a higher rating if A) I hadn't been distracted and therefore somewhat lost so much of the time while listening to it, B) I had binge-read the physical book as a teenager perhaps, at the height of my interest in Michael Crichton's eco-thrillers, or C) if I were watching a well-made adaptation of it instead of listening to an audiobook with one rather limited reader.

amandypaws's review against another edition

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(DNF’d at Ch. 30) 

(This is gonna be a hot mess) 

This book had a lot of potential, but it just couldn’t make it for me. It wanted to have science fiction, philosophy, and a cast of global majority characters and, as someone who’s an avid reader of all 3 genres (and is a Vietnamese woman in STEM), this book just didn’t do it for me. I don’t mind jargon or explanations of concepts, but there’s a point where using so much makes you feel disconnected from the book (in the same way you read a dense biology textbook). 

I enjoy books with either 1) good world building or 2) a good sense of show-don’t-tell. This book was not that for me. I understand that the descriptions of the world around the characters don’t have to be as detailed and as elaborate as LOTR, but if you’re creating such a complex world, I wanna feel like I’m immersed in it. I felt like I was just gently hopping over the water, and never inside of it and feeling it. 

About the characters….whoooo boy. I REALLY wanted to like Dr. Hà Nguyễn, but she came off stilted, flat, and just not realistic. She felt like a vessel trying to convey Nayler’s thoughts on human consciousness. Which is like…not to make everything historical, but Vietnamese and SouthEast Asian women have been used and misrepresented by white men before and they really need to cut it the fuck out. 

Anyways, i know that some books won’t be for everyone, and I don’t wanna think about this book anymore. I don’t hate it, but I don’t wanna think about it anymore.

TL;DR wax philosophy somewhere else. get a grip on your characters and the setting or else it’ll disconnect your audience.

darcy_kummerow's review against another edition

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informative mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.5

nina_beana's review against another edition

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mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.25