Those who feel that aggression was the root of society’s collapse became the members of Amity (the Peaceful), taking the mantle of peace at all costs. And finally, those who feel that the root of all their problems stemmed from cowardliness formed the tribe of the Dauntless (the Brave), the faction of the courageous and strong. Born into a Abnegation family, Beatrice (the main character) has lived her life trying to preserve the values of her parents. Wearing grey clothing, the required style of her faction, Beatrice wants to be as selfless as the rest of her family, but faction beliefs, do not come naturally to her.
Torn between her love of her family and following her heart, Beatrice struggles in her Abnegation faction. Observing the chaos of the Dauntless children as they jump from running trains on the way to school, Beatrice feels conflicted. Society orders that each year, all sixteen-year-olds must take an aptitude test, which determines the faction they are most suited for. The test is followed by a “Choosing Ceremony”, where each person must decide which faction they would stay in for the rest of their lives, living under the guideline of "Faction Before Blood. " Beatrice's aptitude results are undecided.
It is revealed to her, in secret, that she is one of a very rare branch of the population: a Divergent. Her tests show that she does not fall into one of the five factions, but displays traits from three factions: Erudite, Abnegation, and Dauntless. Having been taught at an early age, by her father, of the ruthless ways of the Erudite faction, she immediately rules out that faction. When her time to choose arrives, she follows her heart and chooses to be selfish but brave, abandoning her family and choosing Dauntless. Initiation soon begins, leading to major changes for her, including renaming herself "Tris".
With only ten spots available in the faction and more than double that number of hopefuls, Tris get through a difficult initiation trial and discovers what she is truly made of, and what it means to be Divergent, including the dangers of the name. She confronts her fears and uncovers her own wants with the help of her instructor, Tobias, also called Four. She is also befriended by Christina, Will, and Al, her fellow faction transfers. What follows is a physical and emotional trial for Tris as she manages her secret and finds the evils of one of the other factions.