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 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.
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.
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'll try to keep my thoughts here short.
Overall I am interested in seeing where things go, but I'm worried I will end up dropping soon. Mainly because of one my biggest pet peeves in stories of this type.
I suppose minor spoilers ahead. (though nothing at all specific). mainly me ranting about my pet peeve.
I really dislike when stories have main characters that introduce technology into the places they go. It has never 'felt right' to me. If anything it has always felt nasty to me on multiple levels. It's not only dishonest for the main character to pass off the accumulative acheivements of modern humanity as their own idea, there's also the feeling of tainting or maybe polluting that world with modern things. Of course there's also the weird superiority thing. It feels as though, to the main character, they are inherently better than everyone else for having knowledge of a more advanced world. As though they are a civilised person suffering the ignorance of savages.
Of course, I have also never read one of these plot lines where the introduction of modern knowledge goes wrong somehow. The main character just remembers every invention they've ever googled, and can somehow convince people they aren't some sort of witch or demon with otherworldly knowledge. Also, there's never anything bad about the technologies themselves. We all know that no harm ever comes from new technologies. a person or peoples suddenly having more or better techology than those around them is never a precursor to war or other atrocities.
I don't feel I've properly summed up what feels so nasty about it but whatever. rant over.
There are many poeple who like that sort of element in a story, I'm not one of them. That's not all there is to this story by a long shot, but it is present and noteworthy.
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 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)
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.
For the type of story it is, which is an isekai mashup of genres, it is really quite good.
The style is a lot of tell not show in the beginning chapters and lives. This understandable considering this type of story keeps 're starting' so to speak.
The problem with that, is that the balance of tell and show is so hard to find. I want to be told the less important bits, but without enough showing, characters and events can lack depth.
This is something future edits will probably seriously help out with.
The story itself is fun fluff. Basically, Cadence revives and tries to live a decent life while spreading modern ideas to Broze age and other less developed civilizations. Which is nice and all, but I think what would give this story a great push would be a stronger goal. Like, going over the purpose of Incarnates and developing an over arching plot.
A more modern restart where this isn't her focus (and the focus in noble, but expected) will give more perspective on what Cadence is like when she isn't just trying to survive and help other people live better lives.
Grammar wise I saw a couple typos and...bad reader! I forgot to point them out. Sorry author. 🤦
Character score...sadly this was impacted by the tell and show too. There is so much ground to cover. But apart from Cadence wanting to better the societies she finds herself in...she is bland. She is almost doormat like in her niceness.
Other characters are hardly memorable, or fleshed out. None really 'jump off the page.'
I remeber her first boyfriend saving her, a bit of Lady Cat, the Pharoah was a jerk, and Sut her husband is like just busy running the empire and being a generally good hubby for his time.
But they don't ha e personality, which is what characters need to shine!
But with the scope of this novel being what it is, I understand it would be difficult to do...
All in all The Many Lives if Cadence Lee is a fun, light read for GameLit and isekai lovers.
And I enjoyed this story, even with all my nitpicking. And some would say that's the main point. And I would say back, it is an important point, but the author can grow beyond what ever level their current work is at and I want to support that.
Good luck author!