It's too bad there's no book genre for "coming of age story set in a zombie post apocalypse", because if there was, the Rot & Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry would be the king of that genre. Even if you were just looking for zombies, you could do a lot worse than following the zombie-fighting struggles of Benny Imura.
Set fourteen years after First Night, the start of the civilization-ending zombie outbreak, Rot & Ruin tells the story of teenaged Benny Imura. Just a baby when society collapsed, he has grown up sheltered in the somber town of Mountainside, defended by high fences. He comes to age and needs to pick a job in the town. Reluctantly he asks his older brother and guardian Tom to give him a job quieting the dead out beyond the walls in the wastes, known as the Rot & Ruin.
The Rot & Ruin is not a good place. Besides the zombies, lawlessness reigns outside the walls. The living that have survived out there are just as dangerous as the zombies, sometimes moreso. And there's rumors of a terrible place that the wicked love and good people fear, a place called Gameland...
Rot & Ruin is the first novel in a series of four following Benny, Tom, and their friends Nix, Chong, and Lilah. The later books delve more into what's out there in the world and what has become of human societies since the collapse. The glimpse of post-society humanity is pretty familiar if you enjoy post apocalyptic media: the groups and people would be just at home in Fallout or Mad Max as they are in these novels. That is not to say they are boring and or poorly detailed. The post zombie apocalypse world is very interesting beyond the endless arms of the ravenous undead.
Some might find the YA label on the book off-putting. Rest assured that even if there wasn't a YA category to put this in, Rot & Ruin would still be a damned good zombie novel. Yes, the characters are teenagers who have some insecurities, but no more than adults facing down the undead in horror novels aimed for older readers. There are still fights with the undead using katanas, bokken, kives, sledgehammers, bladed spears, and more. Zombies die (lots of them) and people die too. Oftentimes the living are far scarier than the dead out in the Ruin.
Having read the next two novels in the series, I can say that the quality of the story and writing continue and if anything, get better. The third book may be initially slow due to the grief that it centers around, but even that picks up with the introduction of new villains, perhaps scarier than any before.
If you've wanted to read about a zombie post apocalypse, read these books. If you've wanted to read about sheltered teens learning zombie survival in a wasteland, read these books. And if you're a YA reader who's beginning to want some zombies in your reading, this are the books for you.
The books on Amazon:
Rot & Ruin
Dust & Decay
Flesh & Bone
Fire & Ash
Jonathan Maberry's site