The Many Lives of Cadence Lee
- Sexual Content
- Traumatising content
Cadence Lee thought she was a normal girl, perhaps a little well to do, but not exceptionally so. She had her college classes, she had her job that her uncle gave her, and she had a nice boyfriend who was sweet if a little awkward.
Except, when a mugger accosts Cadence and her boyfriend attempts to wrestle a gun away from the criminal, Cadence ends up shot. A normal girl, with the kind of wound Cadence had, would die. Cadence managed to do that part. But a normal girl wouldn't then open her eyes again and learn that death is not as permanant for her as it is for other people. She can be reborn again, and again. Each time stronger and with new abilities.
The catch? Any world she is born into, she can never return to. She has infinite lives, but only one life for each.
So begins The Many Lives of Cadence Lee.
[participant in the Royal Road Writathon challenge]
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I really enjoy the premise of this story. It is a about a girl who incarnates into an original world each time she dies with the implict command to live a glorious life or else cease being incarnated. It reminds me of jumpchain stories, except jumpchains are almost universally bad. This story is not. The main character, Cadence, isn't given ludicrous powers for no effort. While she can unlock and purchase abilities and stat increases to carry over between lives, it is clear that she is going to have work hard for every single one.
The overall story seems to be heading toward becoming an anthology of short stories with a reoccurring main character. I like seeing the different settlings for each life and how Cadence's character grows and changes in response. It will be challenging for the author to make each story interesting as well as contributing to the whole narative; though, I have seen a similar story done well, so I have high hopes for this one.
Writing style, grammar and characters are all good. Side characters could be fleshed out a bit more, but I understand it could be difficult. When making an entire life time into a short story, each paragraph needs to contribute and not everything can make it in without affecting the pacing. Simply, as it is, a lack of character interaction and development means a lack of emotional impact.
One last note, I have seen others recomend that the title be changed and I disagree with them. I can think of two published works with similar titles off the top of my head. Regardless, the title fits the essence of the story. I'd keep ot as is.
I started out wanting to write a more negative review after reading the first reincarnation, but the next couple lives have been better.
The author has plotted themselves into a corner somewhat as it's a story about lives but it's hard to flesh them out meaningfully without getting extremely long.
The story is at its best when zoomed in on exciting things happening day-to-day. In that mode it can be fun and exciting.
When the author is bored of a character or just wants time to pass it's not nearly as fun. I'm talking 'so anyway I stayed at home and didn't go out until I was 10' levels of fun.
The lives can feel pretty hollow, like original Candace is just glimpsing a movie from time to time rather than actually living for decades.
Having spent more time reincarnated than in her original life, she still very much seems like the American girl playing a video game or something.
Either the author realized this or is just more interested in subsequent lives, because the story does zoom in more and get more engaging, although not totally alleviating the issue.
Side characters tend to be very flat, usually just a name or a one dimensional personality. We haven't seen her really make meaningful friends or socialize in decades. I question if this is possible for someone without going crazy.
The reincarnator points and skills system as it is now feels basically meaningless. She has very few points to spend and impactful things have astronomical costs. It hasn't affected any of lives at all so far but the latest one is looking like it may change that slightly. So basically you will read walls of text about achievements, stats, and skills only for it not to impact the actual plot at all, which is disappointing.
Candace herself is pretty flat, very every-girl who basically tries to be a decent person and stay alive. I would challenge the author to think about 5 things that make her unique and 5 things the would make readers want to root for her over someone else.
I think if the author continues to build on making each life more explored and meaningful, making the reincarnator side actually relevant, and growing Candace as a character we will have a great story on our hands.
This is a jumpchain story in all but name. The author does many things well: the writing is good, the main character is interesting enough (for now) and best of all, it isn't an insane power trip as so many stories of this genre have proven to be.
Yet it also carries all the downsides of the genre and they are even exacerbated here. That's not really the author's fault, but merely the natural conclusion from using original worlds/universes and being more restrictive than most of the jumpchains I've read.
When the protagonist jumps from one fictional world to another in a traditional jumpchain, it's easy as a reader to immerse themselves into these worlds, because they're familiar and beloved already. Replace them with original settings however and the author has to hit a difficult balance between constantly using (too much) exposition or leaving the world blank and full of holes.
The same applies to characters in all those worlds: how much time should be invested into making them real to the reader? Is that effort even worth it when they'll be forgotten about five chapters later? I guess I'm having a hard time finding the motivation to care about those characters, when I know that none of them matter in the grand scheme of things.
This looks to become a series of stories centered around a single protagonist and not the coherent whole I had hoped for. There are plenty of book or TV series that deal with the downsides of their episodic nature by keeping to a small but tight main cast amidst the dozens of guest characters, but this sense of familiarity is lacking here.
For these reasons I know that I'll grow bored of the story some day soon, but until then I'll take all the enjoyment I can.
This story is, again, too new to fully evaluate, as it is still below even a hundred chapters. But I'm feeling fairly optimistic, and the author himself admits this is more a first draft than the polished story.
Grammar: Decent, but there are many of typos. Just enough to occasionally be annoyed at the spellchecking program that overlooked them. What is most annoying is the occasional tense-flip, where people switch between past and present tense.
Style: Very good narrating. There are lots of fast-forwarding scenes, but that is bare necessity with a story that already covers 50+ years. Most of that time is just narrated, but the focus is on the showing of the more cool scenes.
Which leads to Story: Each reincarnation is its own story. In almost 50 chapters, we are currently in the 3.5-th life of the heroine. The first two lifes are, imo, write-offs. Lots of plotholes and not polished like the two that come after. The third is excellently written, having done fairly lots of historical research for a fantasy world. Kudos. The fourth... I'm currently having a hang-up on it. Truth to be told, I would have expected it to be done already.
Because, here we go to the last category: Side-characters are distracting this story. I get it: as a writer to see this awesome character concept, and just can't leave it alone. BUT the main story has only a single heroine, and she can't take the side characters of her lifes with her. We now got many chapters detailing the life and backstories of those side characters. Lots of emotional investment that is slated to go down the drain once Cadence Lee inevitably moves on. In a true show-not-tell fashion, the author writes excellent sidestories on them, but I think those sidestories will barely add more to the main story. At least not more than a short summary of their lifes in a single paragraph; as long as that paragrap is woven int the story instead of being an infodump, that would have been fine. On the other hand I honestly expect the current life to last again as long as it already is - yet it's getting tedious. We all have seen the final outcome telegraphed by now, it's not a surprise twist anymore!
I think the third life had the best balance in that regard of story+character balance; but really, each life is actually a wholly different progression-story.
Summing it up, my overall score is higher than the average of the detail scores, because I think the sum is better than the individual elements.
This story is briliant, 10/10 would want to forget and read again.
Also, the title is fine imo.
The style is great, we don't go too deep into the successive worlds Cadence live in but it's perfectly sensible because she herself doesn't know much of what happens beyond her immediate surroundings.
The pacing is very well done, you'd expect a story that goes various lives would take a while, but the timeskips go over large stretches of time without giving us a feeling that we're missing on important stuff.
My only complaint here is that while they are cool and a bit fun, the first two chapters are still massive infodumps of a pile of various achievements and skills that aren't really very relevant.
Character interactions are on point, descriptions are efficient and sometimes fun.
The Story is great. The stories of each life are extremely well crafted, and the Story of someone relatively average who reincarnates in various worlds is also consistently engaging.
The verious system(s) are well presented, and while MC hasnt done much with the reincarnator system yet, her abuse of local systems is on point, while not giving the feeling that the worlds are full of idiots incapable of properly using the gifts of the system.
Grammar and English are both perfect as far as I can tell.
The side characters are all quite believable and really match the worlds they evolve in.
Cadence herself is quite likable, but more than that, she constantly does some really interesting stuff, and keeps us always wanting to see what's her next move.
The eventsand the lives presented kn this story are interesting. Sl are the positions a decisions of the MC. However, all lives up to now are way too short. The side characters, even wheb interesting, are never present long enough to become endearing. The most disturbing thing in ly opinion is how little the MC actually changes across each life. True there is this short period when she deals with grief and such, but she's able to bounce right back to herself each time, with no effect on the character we know.
Overall it's an interesting read, but not an immersive one.
I rated this high as unlike a lot of rebirth stories I find myself checking back all the time to see if it has updated. The characters are shortlived , yet still memorable in their own way, and the MC flitting from life to life makes them feel all thr briefewr, helping you understand her feelings about it more each time. The only constants are the returns and podi's deadpan snark.
The top two reviews seem quite accurate: the premise is interesting and the first two chapters are an especial slog.
The only problem I have with them and this fiction is the grammar. The tense changes often and haphazardly, and the locution is silly.
For example, some of the first dialogue by Kalvin, 9 year old brother: “We are just heading out to the street! My friends are waiting for me!” Kalvin pleaded with me. “We are basically home, Mom and Dad won’t care.”
Complex clauses and conditionals completely unfitting for an impatient 9 year old.
Instead: "My friends are waiting! It's right outside, Mom and Dad won't care!"
Hopefully the author edits heavily or gets some help.
Rating curved to RR standards.
The Many Lives of Cadence Lee is an interesting story concept executed well so far.
The basic premise of the stories is that a girl dies, and discovers that she is able to reincarnate into a new world for each lifetime, and to gain improvments based on her achievements.
The premise itself is good, but what makes this story so strong is an aspect of its style, that it takes its time in multiple ways. It takes its time with worldbuilding in each of the lives so far, It lets the MC grow up slowly to flesh out her character and path in each life, and it has so far not rushed into giving her powerful improvements. Many stories with the general premise of reincarnations with perks/improvments/bonuses focus on rapid accumulations of perks and power, rushing through lives for an overarching plot. This story has focused on the main character's journey in each of the very differents worlds she has lived lives in so far. It makes good use of time jumps but also feels like it has hit the important moments for the character.
The story and character have both been well handled so far, but it is slightly early to make any definitive statements on either point. In the characters lives so far, the main story in each life and the characters experiences have done a good job changing her character, but how the story holds up long-term will heavily depend on the plot/challenges in each life and how they impact the MC. This story's style choice means that if the author has a solid plan for the story and the MCs progression it can be excellent.
The weak points of the story are that the first two chapters function as a large info-dump that could be off-putting, and that the grammar and editing could be slightly better.
Overall, I would strongly recommend this story, since it has done a great job with its premise and has a lot of potential.
(Review as of Chapter 23)
Fun concept, boring execution.
The author seems to be writing this story as a kind of reaction or satire of it's own concept. With the amount of times the story teases a development that would actually be an enjoyable payoff or progression of the narrative, and then goes a different direction that falls completely flat, it get's old really fast.
The primary example of lack of satisfying payoff is the core mechanic itself - the 'incarnation system' that causes the MC to reinarnate in a new world each time she dies. After every death, there is a full chapter wrapup where the MC visits the white space between worlds to have her life graded by the system so that she can recieve points that can be spent in order to improve her abilites. This isn't a unique concept and it has been done in many stories before. It's actually one of the most fun parts of a story, seeing the 'xp' roll in all at once, seeing how the MC's abilities improve, guessing the end game 'build' based on the current direction, and getting excited to see how the MC takes advanatge of these new strengths going forward.
In any other story with even a remotely similar premise this would be the case, not in this one though. Here, this is a tedious and unfulfilling process that you will begin to roll your eyes at after the first few deaths.
The main issue here that makes this such a slog is how incredibly little it matters. The mc on her first death is in denial that this is really happening and so makes some poor choices, then on her second death she is too depressed to care and so dismissively makes some bad choices to get it over with and move on... so we end up going through this long process (and it is a long and tedious process filled with very weak attempts at humor) several times before the first time where the MC makes any legitimate effort into spending her points in a useful way... but that doesn't really matter either because the system is so stingy its rediculous.
In addition to the various skills that the MC learns throughout their lives not carrying over to later lives, the amount of points that the MC must spend to make the tiniest permenant power gain makes the process just so dull and unfun. To put it in perspective - the MC can spend her points either to add to the base stat bonus she recieves in every life or she can buy a skill that is derived from her accomplishemnts in a previous life. This would be fine, except the cost-value of these purchases is extremly poorly tuned. It takes all of her points from a whole life to raise a few of her stats by a few % (less than 5 usually) and she starts on a scale that puts her at average or below average human. As an added kick in the teeth, every 10% the cost actually doubles because it wasn't steep enough of a price apparently. So youre looking at probably dozens of lives spent only raising base stats before the MC starts to approach being significantly above average (not super impressive mind you, just above average) and so far after 350 pages the MC has gone through less than 5 lives (and thats including the 1 'free' life she got from starting the story dead).
Stat gains during the life also don't carry over to the next life. So raising stats is extremely tedious.
As for buying cool skills instead? Forget about it. Any skill that's not the lamest and most restricted version costs literaly 2-10x more than what shes been earning for entire lives where she's done things as impressive as make a huge impact on history. So she can get 1% in a handful of stats per life, or pick up something like 'read books 25% faster' or 'deal 5% extra damage if you attack with killing intent'. These numbers might be meaningful a thousand lives later when the MC actually has enough other abilities and base stats for a few % to be meaningful, but for now and the vastly forseable future don't expect the MC to do anything interesting with these 'incarnator' skills and stats.
Now, you may be thinking 'those numbers are small but they add up over time and in a mundane world even small supernatural abiltiies could be leveraged into a huge advantage!' That's true, if the author had the foresight or interest to base this story in an otherwise mundane setting it would be very possible for the MC's accumulated minor advantages to be strong enough that with clever use the MC could actually make interesting progress. Having a few % more endurance, strength, or speed could help her in a life as a pro athlete for example and surely then MC could find some way to turn a minor power like '25% less fatigued while doing math' into a tool that could be used to accomplish much in the way of a career path. That's all irrelevant though, because instead all of the lives so far have taken place in fantasy worlds with magic and their own systems that allow any 10 year old (literally) to have so many crazy powerful skills and abilities that the things the MC gains from her incarnation system are basically completely worthless garbage in comparison. That extra 10% intellegence stat doesn't mean anything in front of literal Skills that give people the abilitiy to be gifted knowledge and calculation answers just by looking at things, let alone the ability to turn completely invisible, teleport, or throw magically heal wounds.
I can't be sure whether the author is just being extremely overly cautious to the point of tedium about not wanting the MC to get too strong too fast or whether maybe they didn't want to give the MC any kind of long term growth in the first place and only incuded that because it could make the story more popular or what the deal is. I do know that the author has made a habit of rushing through parts that they admit they got bored with and outright killing off the MC whenever they feel like moving on to a new world, so perhaps it would be best to just view this 'story' as a collection of short stories featuring a single reused character rather than the jump-chain through original settings that it advertises itself to be.
Honestly can't recommend this story if the description is what drew you in since it paints a picture that doesn't match at all with the actual content. You may still find that you like it because you enjoy what is effectively a string of historical slice of life stories with a side of system flavored handwaving on how society is structured, but its not what I came here for and I doubt most people did either.