Another of my favorite vampire novels is the Cirque du Freak book, from the books by Darren Shan which I began reading several years ago. I think the major impact it had on my teenage nephew though was especially due largely to his young age and identification with the main character because he was of a similar age to my nephew when he first read the book.
In the Cirque du Freak (which is the first of 12 books in the series), Darren Shan's character is bitten by a vampire at a circus and this slowly changes his whole world. Bit by bit he begins to transform and feel the urge to bite people and consume their blood.
This is horrific to him as he simply wants to be a normal teenage boy. I think that this is the part of the book that really makes it endearing and adds a poignancy. I sympathized with the character because he was not just a nasty, blood-sucking vampire; he was a human who had undergone a change which he had not wanted and strongly resisted.
Shan's character must leave his home and the comfort of his siblings and parents as a result of the changes to him which make him a danger to his own family. This danger is first and foremost his desire to suck blood but also, he becomes inordinately powerful and seriously injures a fellow schoolboy in a playground altercation.
As a result he wonders what damage he would cause if he were suddenly to become angry with a family member. And because of this he realizes that as long as he stays at home his family will not be completely safe around him. This is an integral part of the storyline in the Cirque du Freak book.
Moreover, he notices that he is not aging at the same rate as the rest of the family. Vampires lead longer lives and he comes to the realization that he will outlive all of those who love him and care for him. What happens to him next is he makes the incredibly difficult decision to leave his family home for good and he joins up with the circus where his ordeal begins.
Overall, thinking about it now I really do think that what made this vampire stand out for me above all the Dracula's and all the rest was the human connection and that he was not a vampire from the beginning. This made me sympathize greatly with him because of his plight and I pitied him having to leave his family at such a young age while imagining how hard it would be for me if I had had to leave my family because of some crazy situation like this.
Shan's character was a reluctant vampire and therefore every time he bit a victim I thought of it as necessity and did not think of it as cruel act.
Lastly, just to give you some context, the Cirque du Freak book was an Irish book and I am not sure how well read it was internationally. It must have done well enough though because I remember hearing a Darren Shan movie was in the pipeline.
Turns out, a movie was made back in 2009 based on the first three books in the series, called The Vampire Blood Trilogy. The name of the movie was Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, starring John C. Reilly, Josh Hutcherson, Salma Hayek and many more.
"I have never met a vampire personally, but I don't know what might happen tomorrow." -- Bela Lugosi