Divergent. This series was recommended to me by my pastor's wife Monica. She told me that it was a story in some ways akin to the popular Hunger Games series by author Suzanne Collins. After reading the first book, I see the similarities, but I also recognize and appreciate the differences. The story takes place in a time period in the near future. The book does not make it clear, but the world as we know it today, has broken down. Perhaps there was a war, but community paradigms have undergone a major shift. The setting of the story is Chicago. Much of the city is vacant and in ruins or decay. The people of this area live in isolation from others in the world. Society has come to the conclusion that the old ways of organization were ineffectual. Now people are grouped into one of five factions defined by their outlooks and bents, Amity (those who desire peace and fellowship), Abnegation (those who are selfless), Dauntless (those who are fearless), Candor (those who hold to honesty above all else), and Erudite (those who pursue truth). At the age of 16, each child must choose which faction that they will belong to. If they decide to leave the faction that they were raised in, they will leave their family and start a new life.
The protagonist of the story is 16 year old Beatrice Prior, whose family is part of the Abnegation faction. During the tests that Beatrice takes to help her decide her true faction, she comes to learn that she is "Divergent", that she does not have one true faction to which she ultimately belongs. The lady who administered the test tells her that she will be in grave danger should anyone find out about her true self, but Beatrice does not really understand what she is being told. At the choosing ceremony, Beatrice decides to leave her family and become a member of Dauntless. There she goes through a boot-camp-like initiation, that is more hazing than disciplined and developed curriculum. However, she not only survives, but even thrives in a way. There she grows close to one of her instructors, a young man by the name of Tobias, who is called Four by everyone. Together, Beatrice and Tobias discover an insidious plot by the Erudite leadership to seize power of all of the factions, and along the way, they fall in love.
This book is part of the young adult genre, just as the books in the Hunger Games. It also is similar in that its main character is a strong young lady who is forced to make tough choices for survival. I very much enjoyed the first book and will now move to the second book in the series, Insurgent.