Number of pages: 431
I read this novel about a group of drug addicts living in Scotland because I enjoy the movie version a lot. I found this to be quite a hard novel, mainly because of the constant shifts in writing style. The narrative occasionally switches between the present and past tense, and is also written in both the first and third person.
The easiest sections are those written in the third person, but when the narrative switches to the first person, most of the dialogue is written in the Scottish dialect used by the characters. Also, there are several narrators, and it is not always immediately obvious who the chapter is written from the point of view of. These chapters are however quite good for getting reader inside the heads of the characters and understanding exactly what they are thinking.
I did enjoy reading this book, and kept going with it; I noticed that there were several differences between the novel and the movie based on it, mostly characters that appear only in the novel. Each individual chapter feels like a mini-story in its own right.
I also noticed that the movie's most famous scene, in which the central character Renton dives into a toilet bowl as part of hallucination experienced when trying retrieve drugs, was not in the book at all, with the chapter instead just making reference to him reaching inside the toilet to get the drugs back, although in large amounts of detail. Most other differences I noticed were minor, with some events taking place in a different sequence, but the other thing I noticed that was significant was at the end.
At least a quarter of the movie version involves the characters going to London to sell drugs, while this takes up only the last 25 or so pages of the novel. I was surprised at this having previously seen the movie, but this didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book.
This is a book worth reading, but don't expect it to be an easy read. Also, there is an enormous amount of bad language, even more so than in the movie version.
Next book: '48 (James Herbert)