Debut Author Under Fire For Alleged Review Bombing

X’s author community is outraged by the latest incident of review-bombing. Authors and readers alike react to evidence that points to a debut author behind several negative reviews on a string of 2024 debuts.

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White square Goodreads logo on the left and cover for "Crown of Starlight" by Cait Corrain on the right.

Debut author Cait Corrain has become the center of the latest book scandal as the alleged perpetrator of a review-bombing campaign. Although the scandal went viral just this past week, several people allege the review-bombing has been happening for months. People learned of the incident after a tweet from a well-known YA author went viral, causing outrage within the bookish communities and amongst writers.

Here’s a breakdown of everything we know so far.

How It Started

On Wednesday night, December 5, YA author Xiran Jay Zhao started a thread with this statement on X (previously known as Twitter):

IMAGE VIA X/@XiranJayZhao
IMAGE VIA X/@KaylaAncrum

Zhao’s post refers to review-bombing, which is when a book is flooded by negative reviews and a low rating on a popular platform. The reviews will make disparaging comments about the writing or author without the reviewer having read the book. Usually, the negative reviews are a coordinated attack committed by a group of people, not just a single person. 

According to Zhao, an author set to make their debut in 2024 created fake accounts on Goodreads to praise their debut while review-bombing other 2024 debuts in the same or a similar genre.

Zhao ended their thread with a call to support the five main targets of the review bombs:

Zhao’s post deliberately kept from naming the alleged author to keep attention on the affected authors, but their initial and subsequent posts on the incident peaked the curiosities of other X users. 

Zhao’s tweet quickly spread, garnering attention from writers and readers alike. Authors in particular reacted strongly to the news, with several chiming in with their own comments:

IMAGE VIA X/@km_fajardo
IMAGE VIA X/@s_t_gibson

An Investigation Begins

After several X users did their investigations on the matter, one by the username @Natalie_Lief seemed to name Cait Corrain, whose upcoming debut is under the Del Ray imprint from Penguin Random House, as the one Zhao’s tweet referred to. 

In a series of now-deleted posts, Leif explained that several fake accounts on Goodreads had left 1- or 2-star reviews on the works of authors debuting in 2024 while rating Corrain’s debut highly and adding it to several lists of anticipated 2024 books. All of the suspected fake accounts and the books affected were put into a Google document of evidence for people to see for themselves. According to the document, the review-bombing started as early as April 2023.

At the same time as curious X users are investigating this, some of the affected authors are also searching for their own answers. One targeted author, Bethany Baptiste, explains her process in finding Corrain guilty in part one of this thread

In the same thread, Baptiste reveals that she, Corrain, and several other 2024 debut authors are in a Slack channel, where the authors were discussing the drama as it unfolded. As of the morning of December 6, an author in the chat named Meredith Mooring announced to the others that “the author is working on a statement. They didn’t personally do this and they have proof.”

Only minutes after Mooring’s statement in the Slack channel, Cait Corrain would take to Slack with receipts of her own.

Culprit Caught?

According to Corrain, someone she knew created fake accounts to praise Corrain’s book while review-bombing authors debuting at the same time as Corrain. Corrain explained that she had voiced some insecurities about her novel, Crown of Starlight, debuting alongside these authors and her friend decided to bomb these books in solidarity with Corrain.

The culprit, whom Corrain named “Lilly,” said she didn’t think Corrain would experience consequences and that it was a harmless way of getting attention for Corrain’s book. Screenshots of Corrain’s conversation with Lilly show Lilly going from confused to apologetic to angry with Corrain, ending with Lilly threatening to continue to make more fake accounts.

While Corrain has posted screenshots and Lilly’s discord and X usernames, no one has been able to locate these accounts. Many are also skeptical of Corrain’s proof because of inconsistencies with the messages’ time stamps. 

At this time, Corrain has gone private on all her social media. Neither she, her agent, nor her publisher have released an official statement.

To support the authors affected by this, learn more about their works here.

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