I'm sure that any time a hotly anticipated new book comes out, people take a close look at the reviews for said book to see what people are saying about it, especially if they aren't sure whether or not they want to spend their hard-earned cash on it. The same would be true for a celebrity biography, and if you throw in the potential for salacious details, that would be even more accurate. But, now, Amazon has had to restrict reviews on the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry biography, Finding Freedom, because of the "unusual" activity in those reviews.
When Finding Freedom was released earlier this month, it quickly shot to the top of Amazon's bestseller list, both in the United States and in the U.K., but controversy over the book now goes beyond what was written, to a supposed plot to have people who hadn't even read the book rate it positively to boost the overall score on the site. According to the Daily Mail, those at Amazon "noticed unusual reviewing activity" and have now limited reviews to only those who have a verified purchase of the new tome.
Ever since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry began dating in 2016, people have had a lot to say about both the union and Markle in particular, and while most of it has not been very nice (to put it extremely mildly) the couple and Markle do have their supporters. But, when they decided to leave their duties as official members of the royal family, the negative talk surrounding them (and, yes, Markle in particular) reached a fever pitch with fans and detractors taking sides even more.
There are now fan accounts on Twitter that boast about being part of the #SussexSquad, so named, of course, because the couple are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and it sounds like some of these accounts may have been behind the push to both write positive reviews and also vote other positive reviews highly to make sure the book had a good rating. But, apparently, this effort didn't come out of nowhere, as members of the #SussexSquad only enlisted help because they believed that there was a similar push by those who don't like the couple to make sure the book had as many bad reviews as possible.
As of this writing, on Amazon's U.S. site, Finding Freedom (which was written by American royal reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand) has 1,182 ratings and an overall review of four stars out of a possible five. However, if you look at the top reviews (those which have been voted on by other Amazon customers and deemed most "Helpful"), you'll see that most of them are one or two stars only and quite critical of the book, as well as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
And, to be honest, one of those negative reviews was so immediately racist that I had to take a break and just look at some romance novel recommendations in order to calm down. So, yeah, this is a whole ass mess.
Another problem is that, even though Finding Freedom, overall, has mostly positive reviews, because the negative reviews have been voted as "Helpful" much more often, they show up first in the review listing. This means that if you look at the reviews, but not at the total rating, you'd assume that everyone hates the book.
It's pretty clear that, whether there was an actual plot to have the book negatively reviewed by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's detractors first or not, there seem to be some royal-level shenanigans going on in the reviews for Finding Freedom, and Amazon's overlords were right in trying to clamp down on it. Geez. Can't a black duchess and her red-headed duke get some peace, already?!