Honey, I shrunk the grad students!
I was hesitant going into this, as I think that State of Fear completely destroyed my admiration for Crichton.
This one got off to a rocky start.
So, apparently this book was mostly finished before Crichton died (from cancer, or from a secret government micro assassin-bot? you decide!). I don't know anything about Richard Preston, but this book seemed more like a slasher film than many of Crichton's, so maybe I'll point to that as Preston's influence. For the most part, I'm just going to assume the ideas were Crichton's and go from there.
First, the book started with an introduction that took a leaf from State of Fear and was Old-Man-Yells-at-Cloud-level of anti-environmental.
(pictured: Michael Crichton, apparently)
The story took a bit for me to get into. First, it was basically Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Plus, having a lab full of grad students with just the right specialties for what they needed later in the story stretched the limits of plausibility.
Then, the mad scientist putting the students in peril instead of just killing them seemed rather implausible, too.
Then, the characters started dropping one by one, like in a slasher film. I especially felt bad for the ones wearing red shirts...
Okay, but halfway through the book,(show spoiler)
At that point, the book opens up and starts feeling less constrained. Anything can happen. I enjoyed the peril, adventure, and stuff from that point on. I'd imagine if Crichton hadn't died (erm. been assassinated by an insect-size killbot), he would have rewritten this into something pretty good.