When I picked up Philip K. Dick's Counter-Clock World, it was more under the assumption that any work of his would be a great read (after a normative 100 pages or so to set up the inevitably-bizarre world), than because of anything specific I knew about the book. In fact, I'd never heard of it, and my copy was bereft of a cover - so without synopsis, blurb, or psychedelic 1960s science-fiction cover art, I had the opportunity to get to know the book strictly on the basis of the words inside (note to self: this is a good thing).
Mr. Dick wastes no time reminding us why his work has aged so well, while so many early SF works feel dated and rusty - the story begins at the beginning, with no space wasted for voiceless exposition. The everyman reader surrogate (in this case named Sebastian Hermes) operates a Vitarium, a facility for assisting the newly-resurrected into their again-existence. If this seems strange to you, you haven't read enough Philip K. Dick novels.
Before I continue, let me tell you why I love PKD's works. I have read an even dozen books written by Philip K. Dick. I won't say they're great novels or that they will ever be classic literature - the prose is bizarre, the characters are barely human (even when they're supposed to be human), and sometimes the plots are completely incomprehensible. I don't read his novels for the literature. I read for the spiritual sense of awe he lends to everything he touches.
I didn't love this book. I think Philip phoned this one in. Maybe he went on a shroom trip and lost the narrative thread, or maybe he concluded that a secondary character was an embodiment of Satan on Earth, or perhaps he just got bored. I doubt the world will ever know. In this case, the story builds up to a brilliant, Messianic climax, and then is unceremoniously chopped off short and brought quickly to a generic ending. In the last fifty pages, it doesn't even read like Philip's work to me.
If I was reading the book for a brilliant plot or for an awe-inspiring setting, this would not be a serious problem - a lot of authors are afflicted by an anemia of the endings. If Stephen King and Charles Dickens can get away with it, I'm willing to forgive anyone a weak ending, as long as there's good meat in the middle.
The problem with this in the case of a Philip K. Dick novel is that, when you read his books, what you're really doing is sharing an experience with him. In his lifelong haze of psychedelic journeys, intellectual tangents, and richly-tapestried psychoses, his novels were more than stories - they were a sharing of ideas that were uniquely, utterly his own. In this novel, it just isn't there. The story begins at the beginning, continues to the end, then stops. The brilliant insanity is missing, and it leaves a great void behind it.
Verdict: Read anyway, but read it after Three Stigmata, Ubik, and probably most of the rest of PKD's canon.