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Skagboys (Mark Renton #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  7,907 Ratings  ·  488 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 2012)
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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…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)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
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
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
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.
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,
Ubik 2.0
“Nel giro di un paio di generazioni non gliene fregherà un cazzo a nessuno…”

“… Saremo solo dei poveri segaioli vestiti strani in foto sbiadite che un discendente patetico, con del tempo da perdere, ogni tanto tira fuori dall’armadio per dargli un’occhiata. Non me lo vedo qualche stronzo famoso che gli viene in mente di fare un film sulle nostre vite, vero?”

Con Google Map cercavo i luoghi edinburghesi incontrati in questo romanzo e sono finito su West Pilton Rise (la stradina in cui Frank Begbie
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
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
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, uk, uk-author, 5-star
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
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
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.
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
As one other reviewer said, 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, TRAINSPOTT
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 o
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
SheriC (PM)
Feb 26, 2017 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to SheriC (PM) by: People who've read Trainspotting first
Since this is a prequel to Trainspotting, I decided to read this one first. I got about an hour into the audio before realizing my mistake, as this seems like a series of disconnected vignettes about characters that the reader is supposed to already recognize. Not having read Trainspotting first, I really had trouble following along or understanding the import of the events, so I decided to DNF and start with Trainspotting instead.
Andrés Cabrera
Skagboys viene siendo el antecesor temporal- mas no real- de Trainspotting. De hecho, todo el libro narra cómo es que Rents, Spud, Sick Boy y el resto del grupo van quedando enganchados a la heroína. Más allá de eso, el libro se muestra como una crítica mordaz a todas las políticas liberales de Thatcher. De nuevo, Welsh muestra su hilarante sarcasmo y hace uso de sus tan acostumbrados monólogos críticos y furiosos. Baste decir que los protagonistas principales de los mismos vuelven a ser Sick Bo ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who understand the slang??
Shelves: dnf, tough-stuff
Listen I tried. I tried hard. Multiple times.


Not only are the first how many pages written in like a handwritten/diary style making letters hard to separate but the slang he uses in unlike anything ive seen and getting through a single sentence takes the same amount of time I need for a normal paragraph.

The story started great, it did, I wanted to read more. But ive had this book since 2012 and its sitting on my shelf all gorgeous, hardcoverish and ex
Iñigo Palencia pulido
La alegre muchachada de Edimburgo vuelve a transitar los accidentados caminos del jaco. Y la parroquia de Irvine Welsh lo celebra y disfruta. Es verdad que la novela no aporta nada nuevo (ni a nivel estilístico ni a nivel argumental). Pero para todos los seguidores del escritor escocés el libro constituye una nueva oportunidad de volver a encontrar a personajes tan queridos y de disfrutar con su violenta escritura. Algo así como reunirse con los viejos amigos antes de que se convirtieran en unos ...more
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
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 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
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
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
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Imagine my joy when walking into Waterstones in London and finding the prequel of Trainspotting, one of my all-time favourite books. Having loved Trainspotting so much I was kind of nervous of what Skagboys would do to the characters which I've grown to love so much, but I was pleasantly surprised. Like some people have said in their reviews, it was like meeting old friends after a long time again.

Harsh and realistic spiced up with some good ol' dark humour. I completely fell in love with Fiona
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....

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 :)
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Che posso dire su questo libro?
Che io ami Welsh è risaputo, esattamente come amo tante altre cose immorali, nude e crude, violente, ma soprattutto VERE. C'è qualcosa di nuovo in questo libro?
No, ovvio. I temi di Welsh sono sempre gli stessi, ma non per questo annoiano, e anzi, mi sono divorata le 600 pagine come faccio con le patatine al formaggio.
Quella tendenza all'autodistruzione che ritroviamo in Trainspotting è presente anche qui (dopotutto è il prequel, che ci si aspetta!), esattamente com
Lucia Caporalini
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, favourites
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
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dacă ţi-a plăcut Trainspotting, o să-ţi placă Skagboys. Cam asta spun fanii lui Welsh despre această nouă apariţie, un “prequel” la Trainspotting şi Porno din care Welsh se pare că a scris bucăţi întregi pe când lucra la Trainspotting, pe care însă le-a pus cap la cap şi le-a rescris acum pentru a forma un roman care poate fi citit fără nicio referire la celelalte două cărţi care urmăresc viaţa aceloraşi personaje.

Welsh e un scriitor extrem de greu de citit, chiar şi pentru nativi, să nu mai vor
Sharon McGuinness
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Jeez but it was hard work. Unrelentingly grim with not enough even black humour to leaven the dough. Awful attitudes to women in it from the main characters and few properly rounded female characters to balance it out. And god is it overlong! Was it the editor's week off??

It was a book club choice and only my completer-finisher tendencies and a kind of horrified fascination got me through to the end.
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Skagboys and Trainspotting 1 2 Oct 17, 2017 09:32AM  
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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
More about Irvine Welsh

Other books in the series

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

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“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.” 30 likes
“Renton asks the cop: ‘But what did ye say tae get him tae come back inside?’ The officer replies: ‘I just told him that no matter how bad it all seemed right now, it’s just part and parcel of being young. That it gets easier.’ ‘Does it?’ Renton asks, and the policeman shakes his head: ‘Does it fuck; it gets bleeding worse. All that happens is that the expectations you have of life fall. You just get used to all the shit.’ But what if you can’t get used to it? The officer shrugs: ‘Well, that window’s still gonna be there.” 13 likes
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