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(Mark Renton #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  20,148 ratings  ·  597 reviews
Mark Renton has it all: he's good-looking, young, with a pretty girlfriend and a place at university. But there's no room for him in the 1980s. Thatcher's government is destroying working-class communities across Britain, and the post-war certainties of full employment, educational opportunity and a welfare state are gone. When his family starts to fracture, Mark's life sw ...more
Paperback, 548 pages
Published April 19th 2012 by Jonathan Cape (first published 1992)
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Raoul Duke Start with Trainspotting and learn about characters first. Much easier and shorter to read. If you enjoy it, continue with Porno, very entertaining af…moreStart with Trainspotting and learn about characters first. Much easier and shorter to read. If you enjoy it, continue with Porno, very entertaining after Trainspotting. Come back to this one after you acquire a good taste for the series. Skag Boys is a guaranteed first class reading experience but a bit harsh to swallow as the first book. It's kinda like Star Wars :)(less)
abcdefg Trainspotting is like this. Porno is a little less like this. It takes a little getting used to. I found that if I kept up with it, I would eventually…moreTrainspotting is like this. Porno is a little less like this. It takes a little getting used to. I found that if I kept up with it, I would eventually get the rhythm of the language and be able to understand it. Then again, I also knew someone from Britain, so I was familiar with some of the slang beforehand. Trainspotting has a small glossary in the back, which is helpful. I found the read to be well worth it though. I've read 3 Irvine Welsh books so far and I love them all. I will definitely be checking out more.(less)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  20,148 ratings  ·  597 reviews

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Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I should prefix this short review with a disclaimer that I'm a huge Welsh fan-boy and am probably incapable of writing anything totally subjective about this book.

Since Trainspotting, I have read everything he has ever done and have bought the books the minute they have come out. I suppose he's the literary equivalent to my favoutite band and like with my favourite band even when the high standards slip (If you liked school, you'll love work) I always believe it's only a temporary glitch and gre
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Maybe you grew up in a city on the wrong side of town. If so, you might find yourself saying I knew these characters or people who were very similar to them. Irvine Welsh is a master at creating characters that are so real, with each so flawlessly described, that you don’t lose track of who’s who in his books. This prequel to Trainspotting felt more desperate and ominous. Perhaps that was on account of having that feeling of dread when you knew where things are headed. It is a searingly graphic ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scotland

So happy to be reunited with these characters.
Love these guys more than words can describe.
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
As one other reviewer wrote, reading Skagboys is like meeting your old long lost friends. Trainspotting is one of my five favourite novels of all time and a prequel where all the characters are in their early twenties is like a treat. There are few books where the characters are so memorable that finishing the book is almost the same as them leaving your home or life forever.

As a middle class Indian, my interest in a book like Trainspotting (or Skagboys) is almost superficial. For me, Trainspot
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Since reading 'Trainspotting' around the time it came out I have read and, to one degree or another, enjoyed every one of Irvine Welsh's books.

Before writing this review I had a look round at some of the other reviews and notice that this book does seem to polarise opinion, generally though most of the readers who have enjoyed previous Irvine Welsh books have enjoyed this one - though certainly not all. One reviewer likened 'Skagboys' to the extras that turn on up on some DVDs, specifically tha
Prundeanu Ciprian
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Barry, you radge c**t! A seminal linguistic work on the intricacies of Scottish English and a thorough medical analysis of the perils of substance abuse. 9/10 will enjoy (unless a Jambo or a weedgie).
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's been a long time – 15 years? – since I read Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, but its prequel, Skagboys, feels even better, at once more ambitious, darker, and funnier than its predecessor. Focusing once again on the same four characters (Mark Renton, Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson, Spud, and Begbie), Welsh relates the story of how three of them first got hooked on heroin in the mid-1980s, while he simultaneously critiques class warfare, Margaret Thatcher's United Kingdom, and Scottish national id ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uk-author, fiction, 5-star, uk
Even though I am a big fan Welsh's work, this book worked a lot better than I had expected.
It is, of course the prequel to Trainspotting, and fills in the backgrounds of our favourite characters during the 1980s, including their introduction to heroin.

Like Trainspotting, and many of Welsh's other books it is written in part in Scottish dialect.
It amazes me, with the writing, how talented Welsh is to be able to have a different written form for each character. For each chapter before the narrator
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was unsure whether a prequel to Trainspotting could ever live up to expectations but was pleasantly surprised. Welsh has constructed a brilliant journey with the highs, lows and unpleasantness that we have come to expect. As always there are some spectacularly emotional, aggravating and of course disgusting scenes. The book is made all the more poignant knowing full well that the characters downwards spirals and attempts to escape their predicaments will never come to fruition having grown so ...more
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Despite the mixed reviews I had seen, I love the 'Trainspotting' boys and it was good to add to ther backstories with this prequel. Not as jovial as 'Porno' but with some fabulous gallows humour in places and when he tries, Mr Welsh describes his home town of Edina with a wonderfully bleak turn of phrase. A quality read, likeasay catboy :) ...more
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best fucking books I've ever read. 20 years ago I said the same thing about Trainspotting. I've come full circle following the Irvine train since then, and I'll always be a Welshian. I may write a full review once I've regained the ability to form sentences. Or rather the sense that I've any right or need to form them after this man puts the final dot on the page. There is much to be said about this book, but I don't know that I am the one to say any of it, or if I even want t ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written as a prequel to Welsh's debut novel, Trainspotting, Skagboys is about Mark Renton and his friends as they descend into heroin addiction in 1980s Scotland. It's told in a series of vignettes from the point of view of many different characters. Like Welsh's other works, it is written completely in Scots dialect and does take some getting used to.
I’ve read many reviews saying that it’s better to read Trainspotting before this one but reading this first really did not hinder my enjoyment of
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For the purposes of this review I decided to read Skagboys, Trainspotting and Porno one after another to get a true feel for the quality of each. I'd read prior to embarking on this epic trek through the 'trilogy' that Skagboys is simply too long-winded and meandering compared to the pithy set-pieces of Trainspotting. However, as a massive fan of Irvine Welsh I found Skagboys to be utterly enthralling and potentially even better than Trainspotting. This is a complicated judgement though because ...more
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's a huge book - 548 pages - and takes a while to get into - with the Scottish brogue and all - but well worth it. I loved the characters - Renton and Sick Boy and Spud. Even though they do some terrible things, they have redeeming qualities that some of Irvine Welsh's characters do not. I had stopped reading Welsh novels for a while because I found them just too crass, but Skagboys reminded me why I love him.
It's a long and meandering book - often you think it's going nowhere - but the detail
Loren Niva
May 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As a long time Welsh fan, I suppose I could be considered a little biased - but really, in all honesty, this is one of the cult Scottish author's finest efforts to date.

Skagboys revisits the sunny port of Leith and adjoining Edinburgh, and the eclectic cast of characters that made up Welsh's debut effort - the drugged-out classic Trainspotting. All your skeevy old pals are here... ever-acerbic Mark Renton, sweet natured Spud, scheming Sickboy and, naturally, the delightfully psychotic pugilist,
Melanie Page
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Irvine Welsh takes readers back to the days before Trainspotting. Exactly how did so many young people end up on heroin? Not just taking, but completely addicted, destroying personal relationships, and with no major fear of AIDS, which is all over Edinburgh, dubbed the AIDS capital of Europe?

Welsh makes no easy connections for readers. When Renton's chronically ill (with practically every chronic illness a person can be born with) brother dies, Renton notes his relief, relief at an end to the em
Hugh Dufour
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great prequel to that greatest of novels, Trainspotting. I started reading this one with few expectations, thinking it couldn't be anything else than inferior to its sequel; it wasn't, only different. As Irvine Welsh says, Trainspotting is about "what happened" and Skagboys is about "how it happened". In that vein, the author succeeds admirably. A fascinating story about growing up in the height of Thatcherite society--where there is no society--this is a lesson in Hobbesian anarchy. The charact ...more
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Do we need another book about Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie? Maybe not. Did Welsh break into any new territory? No. I guess it's just the same old sex and drugs and sex and drugs and violence and drugs but I have to admit I loved it. It it Trainspotting good? No, but Trainspotting was an original and we'll never have the same rush again as that first hit of Welsh. I found this prequel much more engaging than Porno, the sequel to Trainspotting. After reading all three books I can only wonder ...more
Lisa Dolatowski
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Makes you laugh and makes you cry.
I loved the way the author got into the politics and the rise of the herion epidemic in the 1980's. Take note David Cameron!
The perfect prequel to Trainspotting. you feel like you know Mark & Co. I wonder what they would be doing now....

Pat Fitzpatrick
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
The best book I've read in a while. Don't ask me if it was as good as Trainspotting because that was ages ago.

Skagboys sounds right. The dialogue written in phonetic Edinburghese(?) was tricky at the start but I soon got into it and was calling my wife a c**t in no time. Seriously, be careful of that. Your head will be taken over by an angry foul-mouthed Scot. (As if there is any other kind.)

Skagboys sounds right because it is written in the first person from a number of perspectives. So you ge
Guy Portman
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Skagboys is the prequel to Trainspotting. Its colourful, mostly young characters hail from the Edinburgh port suburb of Leith. There is the bookish, unambitious Mark ‘Rents’ Renton, and his best friend, the verbose, predatory womaniser Sick Boy. Others include harmless, accident-prone Spud, overweight ginger Keezbo, and the pathologically violent Franco Begbie.

The friends get up to numerous, often humorous escapades, entailing drinking, partying, bedding members of the opposite sex, pranks at wo
Scott Pomfret
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I confess I listened to this novel on audible, which means I understood about 60% of the content (I am more fluent in Swahili than I am in Scottish). Nevertheless, this was a gorgeous explosion of profanity, sexuality, violence, class despair and drug use. It barely had a beginning and certainly no obvious ending; the novel could have concluded a half dozen times before it actually did, but each time I was pleased when there was more to come, and I was sad when it actually finished.

In 2018, much
Lucia Caporalini
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, owned
Reading the last pages of this book was almost like living through a religious experience. All these characters never felt so real to me as they did in those last few lines. Having known them for the last ten years of my life (more or less) through the books and the movies, I thought they didn't have any secrets to me anymore, but I was oh so wrong. When I started reading Skagboys, I immediatly realized it was special. Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, Tommy, Alison, Hazel - they became more real than eve ...more
Oct 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Ah dinnae really expect ah'm gaunny git intae a 500 page book that wis written in this dialect, likesay ken? Ah'm nae Scottish gadge masel.

But it really did wonders to the book, the language, and the culture that Irvine Welsh depicted in this prequel.

TL;DR - if you liked Trainspotting, you'll definitely like Skagboys too.

Note that this was my first venture into the world of Trainspotting, the crown jewel of this story - I deliberately decided to follow Renton & co. from the start, sticking my h
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, uk-irish
Rambling and digressing on Irvine Welsh's "Skagboys"
feat. Margaret Thatcher's ghost


First things first: I hardly ever read sequels or prequels. Let's be honest about that, whenever an author turns his masterpiece in a series of novels and keeps getting back to the same characters and/or places, money is what he's after. And rightly so. I would definitely be just as greed (probably even greeder) had
May 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Having visited Irvine Welsh's website I couldn’t help but smugly chortle at the irony of the unfortunate placement of his two most recent titles, "Reheated Cabbage" and "Skagboys"(his *third return to Renton & co.), side by side.

So what makes this outing any different?

In short absolutely nothing. Coming in at close to 550 pages the book is a very laborious rehash of "boy meets drugs". In fact the only reason I actually finished the book was so I wouldn't concede ground to a hipster defence of, "
Ruxandra (4fără15)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angus McKeogh
Oct 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
I love Welsh. But recently some of his books (notably: Crime) have been fairly awful. Also, prequels tend to be pretty poor (i.e. Star Wars) and usually leave me thinking, "ah...that's why that story was left out of the first book."

Skagboys had me feeling the exact same way. It started great and then just began dragging. Then crawled and became worse. Then died on the table. Such a long and tedious effort. Boring. Uninteresting and unlinked stories bleeding in and out of one another. I'm still
Chris Steeden
Was great to be back with the boys again. Always feels a bit of a cop-out when artists go-back to previous successes rather than keeping up fresh new material but what the hell.

This did not have the raw visceral impact of trainspotting. An example is Begbie whose violence was shocking but now you know what you are going to get from him.

Enjoyable read but nothing new.
Feb 23, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
Time to finally finish the whole Trainspotting series!
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Probably most famous for his gritty depiction of a gang of Scottish Heroin addicts, Trainspotting (1993), Welsh focuses on the darker side of human nature and drug use. All of his novels are set in his native Scotland and filled with anti-heroes, small time crooks and hooligans. Welsh manages, however to imbue these characters with a sad humanity that makes them likable despite their obvious scumb ...more

Other books in the series

Mark Renton (5 books)
  • Trainspotting (Mark Renton #2)
  • Porno (Mark Renton #3)
  • The Blade Artist (Mark Renton #4)
  • Dead Men's Trousers (Mark Renton #5)

Articles featuring this book

His Favorite Books About Addiction: The Trainspotting author revives his gang of Edinburgh heroin junkies in a new book, Skagboys, and offers five...
23 likes · 10 comments
“Now, for the first time, he's seeing that there really is a way out of this, and it's all so simple. You don't have to run away. You just meet somebody special and step sideways into a parallel universe.” 43 likes
“-Fiona, this is my mate, Frank Begbie. Or Franco. Or Beggars. Or the Beggar Boy. Or the Generalissmo. Or Psychotic Bullying Prick.” 27 likes
More quotes…