I was tempted to give this book a two-star rating, largely because I had a very tough time getting through it. The text is well written enough, but there's no plot, just the chronicle of a single post-apocalyptic man going through the motions of life, and not much else.
Phaid doesn't have a whole lot going for him. Not a bad guy as such, but through his lack of ethics finds himself as a gambler bouncing from one episode of his life to the next with no rhyme or reason. He doesn't think to work to get a job, not to go "back to his roots" or much else. He is a victim of his own circumstance.
He has one seminal event with some psychiatrists disguised as aliens in the book, who try to examine his life and put him on the right and narrow, but Phaid fails again because he has little self impulse to go forward and achieve.
The world is never really described as such. It's just a post-war North America that has somehow rebuilt itself to a degree where pockets of high-tech civilization exist with a kind of sci-fi frontier where lawlessness also stalks the land.
It was a hard slog to get through, and I was angry enough to contemplate giving this book a one-star review, but, like I say, it's respectively well written enough in terms of composition. The tale itself just has no point to it.
My guess is that Phaid is modeled after a real life person who, though not inherently violent by nature, had no real drive to achieve nor become better and make the world better. And, as such, his parents subjected him to the worst form of psychological and psychiatric interrogation, found nothing wrong with him, and when released, went back to his old ways of being a drifter and consort for high profile concubines. That's what I think the story is really about, and, believing that, I'm hard pressed not to give this two stars.
But, like I stated, it reads well enough, even if it doesn't keep you engaged. Based on what I've read here, I will not be reading the sequel.