For most any other author, this would have been your standard post-nuclear war survival novel – quite possibly the most cliched plot in the SF book. But with Philip K. Dick, you have a tale that rivals Alas Babylon or Earth Abides, or even a The Day After.
This story is written very realistically and isn’t nearly as dated as most post-apocalyptic tales from modern authors today. It actually answers a lot of questions and covers some of the more mundane problems that communities would face after a nuclear war. And, of course, there’s some strangeness thrown into the mix, with a Thalidomide survivor with arcane powers, and a man stuck in orbit giving the new world’s it’s only news and entertainment.
The story reads like it was written during the Cold War years (which it was), and one-ups it with a previous nuclear accident that one of the characters was responsible for. People also might find the initial setting a very strange place: An appliance (particularly TV) repair shop – now there’s an anachronism today! The book is populated by Dick’s standard quirky but well-drawn characters – nearly everyone has more than one facet to their personality, and several secrets.
My only complaint about the story is that the actual climax is written in a kind of “off-screen” (or “off-scene”) manner – we don’t actually see it; we just get to read about it. I found that a bit odd, but the book as a whole was a very satisfying read.