Skagboys – Irvine Welsh – Review

Since I read Trainspotting and Porno after renting them from the library the next town over during my high school years I have been yearning the release of a sequel to explain the madness and destruction that was prominent in the first two books about Welsh’s most famous set of characters. The sequel came in the form of Skagboys.

Renton, Begbie, Sickboy, Tommi and Spud.


As I expected the book would its main focus was on Renton the protagonist in both Trainspotting and Porno and it was interesting in learning about his childhood and how he ended up being a smack head.  What made Rent-boy’s story so interesting is the normality of it.  His story is not far off reality for a lot of people but this is why people love reading Welsh’s work – the gritty realism.

I have read nearly all of Welsh’s work and I can say that Skagboys is tame in comparison to some of his other works such as Filth which as the title would suggest is utter Filth – a great book but utterly disgusting. I was surprised to hear that Filth is being made into a film – straight to DVD I assume.  If it is not I will keel over in surprise.  Anyone who has read the book will know which part I am referring to.

I enjoyed Skagboys but if you are as familiar with Welsh’s work as I am then do not get your hopes up in it being the next Trainspotting or Porno.   I don’t think Welsh will ever write a book as good as them but then again he does not need to.  He has made such a name for himself that he could release anything and people would buy it.  I would do the same if I were him.

Renton’s rehab diaries are both sad in their realistic approach to rehab but humorous due to the in your face realism.  If you didn’t laugh you would cry is the approach here.

The characters stories are warming to hear but at times the book gets confusing because it is hard to tell who is the voice in the chapter.  I think this would be even more confusing for those that are not familiar with Welsh’s work.   The length of the book is questionable too.  I could be wrong but I think it is the longest book Welsh has ever wrote and if not it felt like it.  Usually I cannot put his books down but Skagboys although I liked it I found it hard to get through.

I feel bad not giving this book a glowing review because Welsh is my favourite author and wrote my favourite book which happens to be Porno but I felt I had to give it an honest review as the author if anything is honest in what he says. Skagboys is a honest review of what growing up in Edinburgh was like 1980’s during the economic downturn and there are parallels of that in Edinburgh today.

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