At one time in the story, Miller puts a hand around Rho’s throat and presses his thumb into his windpipe until Rho yields. Then Miller kisses him. Reading the story kind of felt like that: a quickly passed hour of constant awareness and stomach clenching (why am I reading this again?), but thank god with a hint of affection thrown in at the end.
Well, it's not called torture porn for nothing. That's also the reason why I can't really complain about things like Miller raping Rho, his ass raw (and "raw" is really a euphemism for saying heavily abused and probably needing medical attention) and Rho deriving pleasure from it, now can I? But not much later Rho's asking to be fucked again. In "The Island", something similar happens: the raped and abused boy springs at the chance to have anal sex with his savior. I get that this could be a need for catharsis and defiance and transforming sex into something pleasurable again. But when going from rape to sex right away, it feels very much like a sick 'healing cock' fantasy .
In order to understand what makes Rho really tick, I would have liked a more elaborate ending and/ or more characterization, as well. Because I for one never had a strong grasp of his motives. Is this really why people hold out under torture? And why not try to kill himself instead of waiting it out?
I appreciated very much that both MCs, especially Rho, were morally ambiguous (Rho was an investigator/ torturer, right?). There's no question that the story is very well written and "engaging" and I would totally read a novel-length version. But with how Rho acted throughout, 4 stars it is for me.