Jonas starts out as an 11 year old boy in a seemingly utopian society. No one is unhappy, no one is hungry and no one experiences loss. Jonas doesn't think anything is wrong with this life, but you get from the writing how very dull and boring it is as well. The boy is selected to be the keeper of memories. The giver is the current holder of memory. He gives Jonas happy memories and painful memories. Memories of hunger, war, death, pain along with memories of snow, joy, love. It is with love and color that Jonas realized what is wrong. He is angered by the lack of choice. They are told what their job will be, who they can marry if they even can, and assigns them children to raise until they are old enough to leave. People stay as long as they are useful, they are cared for into old age and then they are released.
Sure, we have problems, but we also have joy. Maybe we need to find balance and to not let our sorrow overcome our best times in this life. I think this is what draws me to dystopian novels, the hope that things can change for the better.