Lorelei, the setting is somewhat dystopian, but not really. Pierce (the author) says the following in an interview “I think these books of mine are more science fantasy than they are science fiction. It’s a combination of a lot of genres I enjoy. I also love military history, I love history in general. So, history, fantasy and science fiction are my favorites, so I created a book that mirrors all of them.”
People compare the first book to the Hunger Games because most of the setting is in an Institute he’s infiltrating, but the second and third books are nowhere even close to anything Hunger Games. The dystopian aspect is more along the lines of society being genetically modified and caste based. The series has a good ending and is hopeful, although Pierce is a master at jacking up your emotions to where you’ll scream at the book only to zoom through it. He pulls a lot from Roman Mythology and history as well as Nordic (in the second and third books), and got the idea for the book based off a Greek play called “Antigone.”
I was like you at first and was like “Eh, Hunger Games in space? No thanks…” But my friend pushed it and told me it wasn’t anything like that after it got going. He was right. Really, I think you’ll love it. Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear used to be my two favorite books but with the release of Iron Gold (his 4th book in the Red Rising world and start of a new trilogy) Red Rising books have become my favorite. The storytelling, plot pacing, and characters are so robust and incredible that anyone I’ve recommended it to has become obsessed. So if you hate it, I’ll but the books from you because you’d be the first!