I read this book in the early 90's and have long forgotten the name, even though I enjoyed it a lot. The main character is a boy genius who goes to an academy for child prodigies. It eventually transpires that the secret purpose of the academy is to weaponize the students' intelligence, or something nefarious like that.
Other plot points I happen to remember include:
- Before going to the academy, the boy is picked on by his peers for reading Les Misérables in the original French.
- Someone from the academy gives the boy an admissions test, and observes that he sometimes skims over a question, only to revisit it later and write the answer immediately. He explains to the boy's mother that his subconscious mind works on those questions while his conscious mind is focused on other things.
- Towards the end of the novel, a girl who had been one of the boy's best friends has her mind transferred into a computer, and her body dies. She goes insane, or nearly so, but she manages to help the boy out from within the computer before some hardware failure kills her mind permanently. Actually, now that I think about it, the boy may have caused the failure at the girl's request to spare her a nightmarish existence.
- Someone (perhaps a journalist?) who gets too close to the truth about the school has his car's electronics system hacked so that his car accelerates when he presses the brake. He dies in a crash.
Also, I think I first encountered the term Hobson's Choice in this book, although I don't know what it was in reference to. I often think of this book when I see that term. I guess that's pretty random!
Edit: On further reflection I think maybe the girl's brain was actually put into a vat of nutrients and connected to a computer, rather than having her mind downloaded as I described above. In any case, it was abundantly clear that there was no possible way for her to be saved.