In post-apocalyptic Chicago, survivors are divided into five factions: Abnegation, the selfless; Amity, the peaceful; Candor, the honest; Dauntless, the brave; and Erudite, the intelligent. All 16-year-olds are tested to determine the faction that suits them best, but they select their own faction at the Choosing Ceremony. Those who do not complete initiation become “Faction-less” and live on the streets as outcasts.
The main character, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior, cannot choose before she takes the test. Her inconclusive test results (Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite) mark her as “Divergent,” and the test administrator, Tori, warns her never to tell anyone. Agonizing over her future, Beatrice decides to leave Abnegation, her blood, and to join Dauntless. Her brother Caleb chooses Erudite.