Book Two in the series is my least favourite of all the books. That is not to say it isn't enjoyable - it just wasn't as compelling as the others for me. Forces are plotting to keep Harry away from Hogwarts but he is determined to get there, whatever it takes - and understandably because he hates life at home. It follows exactly the same pattern as The Philosopher's Stone - there's a mystery, the three of them try to solve it, it gets scary, all is resolved in a nail-biting dramatic finale.
The Chamber of Secrets focuses on a legend at Hogwarts about a Chamber that will unearth all sorts of evils if someone managed to open it. Harry discovers a diary written by a boy named Tom Riddle which has the power to transport him back in time to view his parents at his age along with a young and slightly creepy Professor Snape and Dumbledore. But Harry doesn't understand the diary or what consequences might come from reading it. He starts to hear voices nobody else can hear and thinks perhaps he is going crazy.
The film is much like the first one except everybody seems to have found their feet a little more. The young cast have really started honing their skills and Bonnie Wright is great as the shy young Ginny. Kenneth Branagh arrives as the "dreamy" but totally useless Gilderoy Lockhart which adds some great comedy value as he frequently takes it upon himself to save the day but always gets it wrong. Overall, though, this story starts to dig deeper than the first with more explanation as to the history of the magical world and more specifically the school and its four founders Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin.
Professor Minerva McGonagall: Salazar Slytherin wished to be more selective about the students admitted to Hogwarts. He believed magical learning should be kept within all magic families. In other words, pure bloods. Unable to sway the others, he decided to leave the school. Now according to legend, Slytherin had built a hidden chamber in this castle, known as the Chamber of Secrets. Though shortly before departing, he sealed it until that time when his own true heir returned to the school. The heir alone would be able to open the chamber and unleash the horror within, and by so doing, purge the school of all those who, in Slytherin's view, were unworthy to study magic.
As with The Philosopher's Stone, this book reads more like a childrens' book. However, it is evidently getting darker by exploring the horrific idea of ethnic cleansing via the Chamber of Secrets. As McGonagall explains to the children, the mudbloods (those not of magical lineage) were deemed unfit to study and practise magic and as such were persecuted and killed. As Hermione is not of magical lineage (but is clearly a better witch than all her peers!) it becomes a very personal affair for our three young heroines.
It's the personal elements of the story that make it so readable. The drama is always happening to one of the three or somebody close to them. Drama and danger just seem to seek them out. And I wouldn't have it any other way :)
Overall, an excellent conversion from book to film. The snake is terrifying and the drama brilliantly captured on the big screen.