Jonas is an eleven.
He and his friends are enjoying their final volunteer hours. The ceremony of twelve is nearly upon them - they will receive their assignments and start their training for their official place in society. Everyone in Jonas' community has a perfect place.
Jonas' father is an ideal, gentle nurturer.
Jonas' mother is an astute and hard working judge.
Jonas' sister is appropriately precocious and employs good precision in language (as any seven should).
Jonas' friends seem to have a clear fit for their orderly and efficient community.
But Jonas is...apprehensive.
During his ceremony of twelve, he finds that he had good reason to be.
This was not what I expected...it was much better!
I've read a fair handful of YA dystopian books with the similar concepts and themes, but none done as well. The quality of writing in The Giver nearly put the other I've read to shame. It is neither trite nor condescending (as I find with some YA fiction), but is laced with a wisdom that makes it a very enjoyable read for an adult and a thoughtful read for middle graders. I can only imagine how cutting edge this would have been when it was originally published.
Of note is the lack of the underlying sinister tension that all other dystopian fiction that I've read relies on in storytelling. The reader enjoys the blithe ignorance right along with Jonas and crew - this somehow makes the story all the purer.
I've seen that The Giver is continued and can be read as a quartet, but Lowry also ends this book on a note that does not force the reader to continue, which I love. I liked this story a lot and am very content.