Disclaimer: I am a Harry Potter fanatic and may or may not be incapable of giving unbiased reviews on my favourite books of all time. Siriusly. Insult Harry Potter in front of me at your own peril.
Diving into book number two after finishing the Philosopher's Stone was so easy. The progression between the first two novels is fantastic - they have a similar tone and pacing, the length is very reasonable and isn't daunting. Unlike the last four books in the series, the first three feel like reads you could pick up and peruse whenever - they don't seem like such a commitment. I think this is also why these first few books, including Chamber of Secrets, are much more child friendly and appropriate. They capture the audience attention right from the beginning and keep a consistent pace which enables even those with short attention spans to become engrossed in the magical world of Hogwarts.
I'll be honest. I read this book purely for enjoyment, and wasn't really analysing certain aspects of it with the intention of giving an in depth review. However, there were some things I noticed.
1) Hermione as a character is developing in Chamber from her strictly law abiding, teacher's pet demeanor in book one. She actually engages in highly illegal activities in this book, brewing the polyjuice potion, and manages to both perfect it, and mess up its application on herself. I appreciate that Rowling didn't make Hermione infallible. Yes, she is the brightest witch of her age, and yes, she is unashamedly talented, but she still makes mistakes and develops as a character.
2) I thought it was a great deviation from the original character blocking that Rowling decided to leave Hermione out of the final discovery of the Chamber of Secrets itself. Yes, her hints lead the boys in the right direction and provide crucial information, but in the end, she is incapacitated from putting all the puzzle pieces together. It is actually Harry and Ron who manage to work it out for themselves through a combination of surprising intellect, and also being incredibly nosey. I think its great that although Rowling has constructed Hermione as undeniably intelligent, she doesn't play into the trap of constructing characters such as Hermione for the specific purpose of putting her into the box as "the one with all the answers" whom Harry and Ron will forever rely on to resolve their problems.
3) The detail of the backstory of the Chamber of Secrets given by Professor Binns was highly relevant (he is the history of magic teacher), and was much better executed in the books than in the film adaptation. I love that in this book we get to see a bigger focus on the history of Hogwarts (although, in all seven books there is some guarantee that Hermione will pipe up with a reference to Hogwarts: A History), and in particular, it's past students (including Voldemort's past itself), the secrets of the castle and the history of its founders.
4) The brilliance behind I-am-Lord-Voldemort/Tom Marvolo Riddle . Did Rowling really create this before the first book was published? If so, that is some fantastic planning.
Some people say that this book is the least favourite of the series. I couldn't disagree more! This book reveals some of the cornerstones that build the Harry Potter series as a whole! The identity of Voldemort, the nature of the "racism" between purebloods and muggle-borns, Hagrid's expulsion, PARSTLETONGUE, elf magic etc. Not to mention that Dobby and Lockhart are hilarious characters.
No surprises here - 5 stars.