Part of our agreement for [my mom] working and traveling so much was that I act responsibly and not be the kind of daughter who required constant supervision. (2.30)
At the beginning of the novel, Nora is pretty straight-laced. She does well in school and she checks in with her mom like she's supposed to. She seems like the kind of girl who stays out of trouble and obeys the rules.
'My mom doesn't like me going out with guys she hasn't met,' I said.
Elliot smiled but there was no warmth. 'We both know you're not that concerned with your mom's rules, since Saturday night you were with me at Delphic. (11.98-99)
In this same exchange, Nora mentions that she isn't allowed to go out on school nights, but Elliot rejects that idea. Trotting out the parent as an authority figure doesn't work in this case.
Detective Basso whipped his head around. 'Well? Which is it? Did he climb or jump? He could have pushed past you and gone out the front door. That would be the logical option. That's what I'd have done. I'm going to ask once more. Think real careful. Did you really see someone in your room tonight?'
He didn't believe me. He thought I'd invented it. (14.95-96)
The detectives in the story are pretty useless. Police officers are often representatives of law and order, but in their interactions with Nora, they often seem skeptical, mildly antagonistic, accusatory, and clueless. Her interactions with the detectives indicate that when trouble strikes, she won't be able to depend on traditional authority figures for rescue.
'When was the last time you went to church?' I asked.
I heard the pop of bubble gum. 'Sunday.'
'Do you think the Bible is accurate? I mean, do you think it's real?'
'I think Pastor Calvin is hot. In a fortysomething way. That pretty much sums up my religious conviction.' (19.57-60)
Religion is often considered an authoritative institution. Here, Nora questions whether one of the symbols of religion, the Bible, is accurate. She doesn't just accept it as obvious truth. Vee responds in her typically irreverent fashion.
'It wasn't easy getting down here. Lucianna is making excuses for why I'm absent. I'm risking her future as well as my own. Don't you want to at least hear what I have to say?' (23.25)
In this flashback, Dabria points out the world of angels/fallen angels also operates under a system of rules, albeit different ones than the human world. But this scene also makes it clear that we're enmeshed in a story of serious rule breakers. Jules, Patch, and Dabria all flout the rules to pursue their own interests and desires.
I was forced to accept that maybe now wasn't the time to rely on the logical half of my brain. Maybe this was one of those times when I needed to step out of bounds. Stop playing by the rules. (24.45)
Unlike the straight-laced Nora from the beginning of the novel, middle-to-end-of-the-book Nora realizes she's caught up in a world where traditional rules do not apply. She knows she's not in Kansas anymore.
'She wasn't going to keep her wings after plotting to kill you. The moment she tried to get back into heaven, the avenging angels would have stripped them. She had it coming sooner or later. I just sped things up.' (26.89)
As Dabria did, Patch alludes to the rule system in heaven. In true Patch form, though, he has no problem taking matters into his own hands, busting out a bit of vigilante justice.
'I'm at school. We broke in,' [Vee] said in a voice that was naughty to perfection. 'We want to play hide-and-seek but don't have enough people for two teams. So… do you know of a fourth person who could come play with us?' (26.105)
Using the school as the background for the climactic final fight reinforces the idea that conventionally safe places of rule and order, such as school, are no longer safe in this story. None of the rules of parents, law enforcement, or school can protect Nora from Jules.
'My mom!' I gasped. I found the clock on the nightstand. It was just after two in the morning. 'They must have opened the bridge. How does this whole guardian angel business work? Am I the only person who can see you? I mean, are you invisible to everyone else?' (30.32)
Nope, he's not invisible, but what's really striking here is that Nora just spent the previous evening in a fierce battle, even dying for a while there. But forget all that: Here she is worried that her mom will find a boy in her room in the middle of the night.
'This is crazy,' Detective Basso said, shaking his head. 'I've never seen anything like this.' (30.93)
This is pretty much all Detective Basso has to say when he comes to investigate the fire at the Greys' house. He asks a few half-hearted questions and then gives Nora and her mom the phone number to a good security system company. Really, detective? You weren't willing to believe Nora about the intruder earlier in the novel, but you are willing to buy the story that a psycho school psychologist ransacked a student's house looking for some unspecified item? He's making law enforcement in the book look kind of dense.