This is one of those things where I remember maddeningly little detail, but I keep running into questions on the site that reminds me of it. I read it somewhere in the 90s as a paperback, probably from my local library in Kentucky. One of the bits that has stuck for me is that the cover had a black metal robot, inhuman-looking, I think with more than two arms, which had one of kids held up in the air (either by his neck or the front of his uniform) while the others attacked around it. The kids were all dressed alike. I vaguely remember that it was a sort of military feel to it and the kids weren't there entirely by choice, having been picked out because they were extremely intelligent.

The other bit that I vaguely remember was that one of the characters (I think it might have been one of the teachers, not one of the kids) had undergone some sort of treatment, whether it was an implant or the result of hypnosis, that removed compassion and emotion from him, allowing him to be a more effective fighter. I have this lingering memory that he got attacked and was choked to unconsciousness, and I remember thinking it was tremendously unfair that, with his special ability, he was taken out like that.

If I remember any other details, I'll post them here, but that's all that's coming to mind.

  • I wish I had more art talent because I can picture the cover in my head... – FuzzyBoots Jun 16 '19 at 14:38

This may be stretching it, but since I haven't seen a better (or any) answer after two days, I'll throw in my hat. Is there any chance you're thinking of Bruce Coville's Robot Trouble from the Trilogy, "The A.I. Gang?"

"Robot Trouble" book cover

While it seems to be red and only has two arms, that robot is blatantly lifting one of the kids.

Parts of the book do match your description, as the trilogy features:
1. Intelligent kids are dragged off to an island that is very machine focused.
2. They definitely aren't there by choice.

Things that don't match include:
1. The kids are dragged along because their parents are scientists and engineers who can help build a self aware a.i.
2. The cover doesn't portray them as similarly clothed.

Finally, while there are several adults in the book in the form of scientists, security, and the head director of the project, I can't recall or confirm if any of them went under a special treatment that removed compassion.

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  • I thank you for your post. I don't thing it's the one I'm thinking of, but I did run into that one on my own searches and, if two people are suggesting it, maybe it's the right one. On a side note, if so, it would become a duplicate of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/13846/…, but it's a good first start. – FuzzyBoots Nov 20 '15 at 4:29
  • I got a copy from the library and sadly, it is indeed not the right one. – FuzzyBoots Oct 31 '16 at 11:49

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