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Roughly 10 years ago, I started reading a YA novel from my school library that I believe was some kind of low fantasy/dystopian story. I remember almost nothing about it, except that the main character was a girl (possibly with a younger sibling, though I'm not sure of this).

The city she lived in was set up in such a way that everyone was divided into several different 'classes' each regulated to a certain section of the city (possibly set up in rings or wedges, poorest on the outside, richest on the inside). Each with their own colour (I think red was the poorest, or one of, and that was the colour of the main character's class).

I don't remember the plot or any particular incidents, as I don't think I got very far into the book.

  • Sound familiar for me. Does the girls choose to join other classes (Red is combat class) ? Does she has a brother in blue class (scientist or nerd class)? Does her 'parents' is in orange class (like farmer)? – someoneuseless Nov 14 at 1:35
  • Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde has red as the lowest class, but a male protagonist. Also, everyone is colorblind to all but their color, which is based on bloodline. – FuzzyBoots Nov 14 at 3:01
  • Thanks for the hints, but the answer has been found! It is indeed The Wind Singer. Thank you for taking the time to help! – s.anne.w Nov 14 at 3:30
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Closest match I've found so far is The Wind Singer by William Nicholson.

The book begins in the walled city of Aramanth, an extreme meritocracy where endless exams and ratings are the only way to move forward to improved life stations; to be unsuccessful in this is seen as a great source of shame. Using a system based on colour classifications, the governing Examiners dictate what people can wear, where they can live and what jobs they can do. The levels are grey, maroon, orange, scarlet and white, with the muddy Underlake the lowest and white the highest. The Emperor is the only person allowed to wear blue.

A minority in their society, the Haths believe more in ideas and dreams than in endless toil and ratings. When young Kestrel defies the harsh classification system of Aramanth she flees, finding herself in the company of the Emperor of Aramanth. Thought to be the ruler of the city, he is found to be merely a puppet of the High Examiner, and the Emperor tells Kestrel of the need to rid Aramanth of the influence of the evil Morah, of the need to return the voice to the mysterious Wind Singer that stands in the city arena.

Using an archaic map given to her by the Emperor she sets off, joined by her twin brother, Bowman, and their brave but pitiful new friend, Mumpo, who has an unshakeable affection for Kestrel. They meet a variety of tribes and individuals including the fearsome nomadic clans of Ombaraka and Omchaka. The journey eventually leads them to the Halls of the Morah; the very heart of the evil that has taken control of the city. Here the children finally retrieve the voice of the Wind Singer, in the process waking the terrible Zars, an army of the Morah. Pursued by the beautiful, evil and unstoppable Zars, the children race back to Aramanth, arriving just in time to return the Wind Singer's voice. The voice allows the Wind Singer to emit a powerful song that destroys the Zars and saves Aramanth.

Color-based society, female protagonist with a sibling, and it came out in 2000. However, red is not the lowest caste.

  • That's it! It was only ringing a few bells until I got to the mention of Mumpo, that's what made me remember. Red (scarlet) was really the only colour that I was sure was in the story, so that's probably why I thought it was the lowest ranking. Thanks so much! – s.anne.w Nov 14 at 3:29

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