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20 Books Like Red Rising

Books Like Red Rising

Are you still reeling from the adrenaline-pumping, heart-pounding ride that is Pierce Brown’s “Red Rising” series? 

If so, you’re not alone. 

The epic tale of rebellion, betrayal, and redemption set in a futuristic society has been a fan-favorite of many bibliophiles. 

If you’re craving more interstellar adventures and complex characters to immerse yourself in, here are some books like Red Rising that share the same pulse-pounding action, intricate world-building, and gripping storylines. 

Let’s blast off into the unknown!

Books Like Red Rising

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent” is a thrilling dystopian novel that explores a society divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue. The story follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior, who discovers she is Divergent, fitting into more than one faction, and uncovers a conspiracy to destroy all Divergents. As she tries to find her place in this fractured world, she learns about the dark sides of her society and herself.

Major Similarities: Like “Red Rising,” “Divergent” features a young protagonist navigating a rigid, hierarchical society based on certain traits or abilities. Both novels involve the themes of rebellion, identity, and social stratification, with the main characters challenging the status quo and fighting against oppressive systems.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games” is set in a dystopian future where the Capitol exerts control over the districts by forcing them to send one boy and one girl to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to save her sister from this fate, becoming a symbol of rebellion against the tyranny of the Capitol.

Major Similarities: “The Hunger Games” shares with “Red Rising” a critique of societal inequality and the spectacle of violence used to maintain control. Both feature strong, resourceful protagonists who become reluctant symbols of resistance and change within their oppressive societies.

3. Legend by Marie Lu

“Legend” is set in a dystopian future United States, now the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. The story is told from the perspectives of June, a prodigy born into an elite family, and Day, the country’s most wanted criminal. Their paths cross when June’s brother is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect, leading to a cat-and-mouse game that uncovers a deeper conspiracy.

Major Similarities: Both “Legend” and “Red Rising” present a society divided by class or status, with protagonists from opposite ends of the social spectrum. The themes of injustice, rebellion, and the questioning of loyalty and morality are central to both stories.

4. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner” begins with Thomas waking up in a lift, remembering nothing but his own name. He emerges into a world of about sixty teenagers living in a clearing, surrounded by a giant maze. As Thomas joins the fight to find a way out, he discovers hidden strengths and the dark secrets of the maze and its creators.

Major Similarities: Similar to “Red Rising,” “The Maze Runner” features young characters placed in a deadly, mysterious environment as part of a larger, sinister experiment. Themes of survival, leadership, and the struggle against a controlling power are prominent in both novels.

5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

“Ender’s Game” follows Ender Wiggin, a gifted child sent to an advanced military academy in space to prepare for a future alien invasion. Ender is isolated and pitted against his peers to bring out his tactical genius. As he rises through the ranks, he faces the moral and psychological complexities of leadership and war.

Major Similarities: Both “Ender’s Game” and “Red Rising” explore the making of a leader in a war-like setting, where the protagonist is thrust into a brutal, competitive environment. Themes of strategy, the ethics of war, and the manipulation of young individuals by higher authorities link the two novels closely.

6. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

“An Ember in the Ashes” is set in a fantasy world inspired by the Roman Empire, where Laia, a slave, and Elias, a soldier, are both struggling to be free from the tyranny of the Martial Empire. Laia becomes a spy within the military academy to save her brother, while Elias wants nothing more than to escape his predestined military future.

Major Similarities: This novel shares with “Red Rising” a setting inspired by ancient civilizations, with a focus on military training and the fight against an oppressive regime. Both feature complex characters caught between duty and desire for freedom, exploring themes of loyalty, betrayal, and the quest for justice.

7. The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection” is a dystopian romance set in a future America, now a monarchy called Illea. It follows America Singer, a young woman chosen to compete in the Selection—a competition to win the heart of Prince Maxon and become the future queen. Amidst growing threats from rebels, America must decide where her heart truly lies.

Major Similarities: Like “Red Rising,” “The Selection” involves a competitive process that elevates the protagonist from a lower status to a position of high visibility and potential power, set against a backdrop of societal unrest and rebellion. Both novels explore themes of love, social mobility, and the challenge of navigating a highly stratified society.

8. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

“The Bone Season” introduces a dystopian future where a young woman, Paige Mahoney, works in the criminal underworld of Scion London. Her job: to break into people’s minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and under Scion law, she commits treason simply by breathing. Captured and taken to Oxford, a city kept secret for two hundred years, she is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, for training.

Major Similarities: Both novels feature a protagonist with special abilities in a dystopian setting, where society is strictly controlled by a powerful, secretive ruling class. Themes of rebellion, the discovery of hidden strengths, and the fight for freedom against seemingly insurmountable odds are central to both stories.

9. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

“Graceling” is set in a world where some individuals are born with Graces, a unique gift that can be a blessing or a curse. Katsa, born with the Grace of killing, is used as a tool by her uncle, the king, to enforce his rule. When she meets Prince Po, who has a Grace of his own, Katsa begins to question her life and her mission, leading her on a journey of self-discovery and rebellion.

Major Similarities: Like “Red Rising,” “Graceling” features a protagonist with extraordinary abilities navigating a world of political intrigue and social hierarchies. Both novels explore themes of power, identity, and resistance against tyranny, with strong, morally complex characters.

10. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

“Snow Like Ashes” follows Meira, one of the few survivors of the kingdom of Winter, now enslaved by the kingdom of Spring. Dreaming of freedom for her people, Meira embarks on a quest to recover a magical conduit that can restore Winter’s power. But as she delves deeper into the politics of the kingdoms, she uncovers secrets that could change everything.

Major Similarities: The novel shares with “Red Rising” a richly built world divided into distinct realms or factions, with a focus on the struggle for freedom and justice. Both feature young protagonists who grow into their roles as leaders and rebels, challenging the oppressive status quo and uncovering hidden truths about their societies.

11. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

“Cinder” is a futuristic retelling of Cinderella, set in New Beijing where humans, androids, and cyborgs coexist. Cinder, a gifted mechanic and a cyborg, becomes entangled in intergalactic politics and a looming plague crisis. As she tries to break free from her stepmother’s oppression, Cinder uncovers her mysterious past and finds her place in the fight against a ruthless lunar queen.

Major Similarities: “Cinder” and “Red Rising” both reimagine classic stories in a futuristic, dystopian setting, with protagonists who rise from oppression to challenge a tyrannical ruler. Themes of identity, societal division, and rebellion against injustice are key elements in both narratives.

12. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

“The 5th Wave” depicts an Earth decimated by waves of alien invasions, with the remaining humans struggling to survive against a new world order. Cassie Sullivan, a survivor, must navigate this dangerous landscape to save her brother, all while not knowing whom to trust. The arrival of the mysterious Evan Walker could be her salvation or the ultimate betrayal.

Major Similarities: Similar to “Red Rising,” “The 5th Wave” presents a world in the aftermath of catastrophic events, with young protagonists fighting against an overwhelming power. Both novels delve into themes of survival, trust, and humanity’s resilience in the face of extermination.

13. The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

“The Red Queen” is set in a world divided by blood—red and silver. Mare Barrow, a Red, discovers she possesses a deadly power of her own, a trait that threatens the Silver elite. Forced into the very heart of the Silver royal court, Mare becomes embroiled in a deadly game of power, rebellion, and betrayal.

Major Similarities: Both “The Red Queen” and “Red Rising” explore a world rigidly divided by social class, with a protagonist who defies their society’s constraints. The novels share themes of revolution, the discovery of hidden powers, and the complexities of political intrigue and personal loyalties.

14. Scythe by Neal Shusterman

In a world where disease, war, and mortality have been eradicated, the Scythes are the only ones who can end life, tasked with keeping the population in check. Citra and Rowan are chosen as apprentice Scythes and are thrust into a society where corruption and power struggles are as deadly as the blade they wield.

Major Similarities:Scythe” and “Red Rising” share a unique take on a future society that, on the surface, seems utopian but is riddled with moral and ethical dilemmas. Both novels explore the implications of power, the value of human life, and the resistance against corrupt authorities.

15. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One” is set in a dystopian future where humanity escapes the desolation of the real world by immersing themselves in the OASIS, a vast virtual reality universe. When the creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a series of puzzles leading to a massive fortune and control of the OASIS. Wade Watts finds the first clue and is thrust into a dangerous race against powerful players and corporations.

Major Similarities: Like “Red Rising,” “Ready Player One” features a young protagonist from a disadvantaged background entering a competitive environment with high stakes. Both novels explore themes of escapism, the impact of technology on society, and the fight against oppressive powers in a quest for equality and justice.

16. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Set in a dystopian world where all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds called Noise, Todd Hewitt discovers the silence that is Viola, a girl who may hold the key to unlocking the planet’s many layered secrets. They embark on a journey that will force them to learn about the true nature of their world and their own selves.

Major Similarities: Both “The Knife of Never Letting Go” and “Red Rising” immerse readers in uniquely challenging environments where the young protagonists must navigate a path of discovery, betrayal, and personal growth. Themes of corruption, the power of knowledge, and the fight for freedom tie the narratives closely together.

17. Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight for their right to live. Connor, Risa, and Lev embark on a journey that uncovers shocking truths about a society where life and death decisions are a matter of state policy.

Major Similarities: “Unwind” shares with “Red Rising” a critical view of a future society’s ethical and moral decisions. Both novels feature young characters in a fight for survival against a backdrop of societal norms that challenge the reader’s perceptions of right and wrong.

18. Wool by Hugh Howey

Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the remnants of humanity live in a giant silo underground, with strict rules and a society that punishes dissent with death. When Juliette, a mechanic from the depths of the silo, is brought to the top, she begins to uncover the lies that have kept the silo obedient and the truth about the outside world.

Major Similarities: “Wool” and “Red Rising” both delve into themes of rebellion against a controlled, dystopian society. The protagonists challenge the status quo, leading to a deeper exploration of freedom, the nature of society, and the cost of change.

19. The Giver by Lois Lowry

In a seemingly perfect community without war, pain, suffering, differences, or choice, a boy named Jonas is selected to be the Receiver of Memories, learning about the dark and complex realities of the human experience. This knowledge forces him to question everything he has ever known and to consider the true meaning of freedom and individuality.

Major Similarities: Both “The Giver” and “Red Rising” feature a protagonist who is exposed to the underlying injustices of their societies, leading them to question their roles and to seek change. Themes of control, the loss of innocence, and the quest for a better world are central to both stories.

20. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

After a disease kills most of America’s children, the ones who survive are left with powers they can’t control. Ruby, one of the most powerful, escapes her camp and joins a group of runaways seeking safety. Together, they must use their powers to fight back against a government that fears and wants to control them.

Major Similarities: “The Darkest Minds” and “Red Rising” share the theme of young people with extraordinary abilities rising up against an oppressive regime. Both novels explore the dynamics of power, the importance of solidarity, and the journey towards liberation.

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